Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Watch this video and you have your answer.

THIS is why!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008


How you get involved in Operation Christmas Child depends first on your location.

Each nation that sends boxes has it's own website with it's own rules and so on.
So your best bet is to check there first, then take my rules as a "general" list of what to do.

United States
Australia (New Zealand comes under their office)
United Kingdom

If you live in one of those countries, you can take part in sending a box.
Next you'll need to source your shoebox. For us that is a matter of just walking into any shoe shop and asking "please may I have an empty box". If your situation is anything like ours, businesses pay for their refuse to be taken, so if they give you a box that's one less they have to pay to dispose of!

Wrap your box in bright paper, it doesn't matter if it's not Christmas paper, just keep it bright and cheerful! be careful how you wrap it, remember these boxes are getting shoved into cartons next to other boxes and any loose bits of paper have a tendency to rip. If in doubt spray paint a box with gold paint. That was a new one to us this year, but they look so good. I have a can to spray some of our empty boxes at the depot but MUST go get a face mask first, I got a bit light headed after 2 boxes last time, heeheee.

I understand that one of the nations is actually giving out boxes, but I'm not sure which. These come printed with the instructions on the inside of the box. You pay your "donation fee" to get your box, for the rest of us that "donation fee" will come later.
The rest of us will need to either get hold of a leaflet OR go onto the website for OUR OWN NATION and find the page about packing boxes.

This is because the list of acceptable and unacceptable items is slightly different for each of us.

For instance, this link takes you to the United States "How to pack a box" page.
And this one to the United Kingdom "What to Pack in a box" page.

One obvious difference is that the United States can send t-shirts and underwear. United kingdom is only supposed to send socks. Also items with batteries are fine in the US, but are on the "general" NO list for the UK. However, some depots will be able to send battery items because of where their lorry is going to.

But here's the thing,
IN GENERAL if you want to pack a reasonable box try and include something from each of the following 4 areas.
  1. Something to Love - that's the toys of all sorts. Make up, hair accessories, etc.
  2. Something to Do - that's the pens, pencils, colouring books, note pads, and so on.
  3. Something to Use - that's the soap, flannel, other acceptable toiletries, NO liquids and please check before putting toothpaste in, some nations are OK with it, others aren't.
  4. Something to Eat / Wear - sweets (check your website for the use by date they need to have), hats, scarves, gloves, socks, ties for the older boys, head scarves for the older girls.
If you include at least something from each of those sections that is a well rounded box.

You will need to choose whether your box is going to a boy or a girl and which age range it will go to. We have 2-4 year olds, 5-9 year olds and 10-14 year olds. If the clothing items in your box don't fit directly within one of those age bands it is not good scribbling off the ages on your label and writing your own in. It HAS to go into one of those because of the processes at the other end! So choose your age range based on the average contents of your box, or better still choose your age range first and shop accordingly.

You want to pack your box so that it is full enough not to collapse in transit but not so overfull that it explodes when we take the elastic band off.

The last thing you need to do before attaching your elastic band is pay your "donation". This covers the cost of transporting the boxes to their destinations. In the UK that is £2.50 this year for each box. Please fill in your details on the envelope provided on the leaflet and insert either a cheque or cash. BETTER STILL, please please please, if your nation allows you to pay online (I KNOW UK and US does, haven't checked the others), do that, the system will give you a code number to write in a space on your leaflet, which you then pop in the top of your box.

Wrap it around with an elastic band and take it to your nearest drop off point!

If you don't know where your nearest drop off point is, please go to your nations website and there should be somewhere for you to enter your location and it will tell you where to go!

Take it to your drop off point and the rest is up to us!

If you want to get involved there are plenty of opportunities, particularly in those locations that have OCC depots, or checking centres, check out the "how to volunteer" page of your nations website!

I THINK I have covered everything, but please, ask questions!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

13 reasons to pack a shoebox

  1. And I have saved my personal favourite until last. I just love the look on this little guy's face.

Go check out other Thursday 13 participants.
But please leave a comment so I know you dropped by.

Wordless Wednesday

No words, just a picture!

Then, head on over to the Wordless Wednesday main page and join in etc

OCC video

In between my main posts written by me, I'll include a few OCC videos from the last few years.

First Two Days of Depot

Well, we officially opened on Monday with 3 training sessions and by the time I left yesterday we were looking like we might run out of boxes because no one wants to bring them in yet! PLEASE if you are in our area and have been packing boxes, BRING THEM TO US AT THE DEPOT! (you can fin the address of the depot by entering your postcode into the drop off point finder on the OCC website)

We are also getting through our "fillers" at a scary rate! Fillers are all the extra items that we source for a depot, to go into boxes that aren't quite full. We cannot send boxes that are not full because they need to be firm in order to stand up to the weight of the other boxes stacked on top of them in the carton, and the other cartons stacked on top of that one on the pallet, and the other pallet stacked on top of that one if we need the space!


If anyone local is reading this please speak to any local business people you know, whatever business they might be in. Even a few reams of ordinary copier paper, can be separated into bundles of a few pages to go into a box.
So let me show you some photos from our depot.

One of the local sign makers, in Madeley did that for us, and it'c come out really well. We are so pleased.

Then walk across the car park to here.
When the van comes in and out we will be using the big door you can see open there, but the rest of the time we will be using the door over on the very right of that picture.

Sign in desk.Forms to fill so we have your details if there is an accident or whatever, and the sign in sign out book so we know who is in the building at any one time.

Our little trolley thing.
MOST depots across the UK borrow supermarket cages to move a whole pile of boxes at a time from where we store the boxes, to where we sort them. We have NOT been able to get any local supermarket to let us borrow some, they keep saying they only have just enough and it's their busiest time of year etc. Yet the rest of the country managed to lend some, I just don't get it!

The very first training session. People CHECKING their first boxes of the season.

This is our van. We hired it for the time we are open, to go fetch people's boxes and so on.
So if it's a hire van, how did we get the OCC logo on it?

It's easy, they are magnets! Door magnets readily available from a very well known online printing company.

And finally a short video that I put on my main blog yesterday. More to come in the future.

Take a journey into our Shoebox depot with me.
My bits to camera at home are much quieter than the bits done with the video camera on site, so you might need to reach for the volume switch part way through.

You might also wonder why I didn't help the lady with the signs. Me too! but at the time I was busy filming.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Shoebox Depot

The Shoebox Depot is coming along nicely.
We have all our tables laid out ready for packing etc, we have cornered off a small area at the back to be a finance office. Ideally we would have a separate room for that, but needs must and the warehouse WAS free! And after all, banking will be done daily.

We have a couple of urns for making hot drinks, and necessary supplies for that. We already have over 200 boxes ready to be sorted and the cartons for packing the boxes into arrived on Friday.

We have a limited supply of "fillers" for boxes that need topping up, but not enough! Got to work on that still.

SO, on Monday we will start!
We have training sessions at 11:00am, 1:30pm and 6:00pm
The lady who has previously run the Hereford Depot will be with us all day that day, but after that we will be on our own. She will be available by phone at all times, so we won't really be left alone, but it's going to be scary at times, this being our first year.

Soooo, can Telford meet its target of 7000 boxes this year?
In the current economic downturn?
I belive we can!

Stay Tuned and find out if I'm right.

To come this week - Photos from training day and hopefully a video blog post too!

Monday, October 27, 2008


I was away for a night with my hubby last night when I got a text to say we would be picking up the keys for the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox depot this morning. We weren't going to be back in time to meet the others there, but decided to drive by it on the way home so that hubby would know for sure where it was.

Some of the others were there doing a couple of things, so I got to see inside after all.
Right now it's pretty much an empty shell of a building. 1 toilet in the corner, and 4 sockets for the whole place.

Yes, it was the unit I thought it was. These units have all been refurbished, so have new roofs, and have been cleaned out and repainted inside.

Because we have the big huge door we can just drive the van right in for unloading. Great if it rains.
If you look beyond the van door to that cubicle in the corner - that's the only toilet in the place, one between all of us. There is no separate office space or anything like that so we'll have to use dividers to make something like that.

Tables, tables, tables , and lots of chairs. We might be making more use of that trolley than we had hoped! We can't get any of the supermarkets to let us have any supermarket cages!
If you're in Telford and you have supermarket contacts, can you help.
We only want to borrow them not to keep them, we can collect and return when we are done. PLEASE!
We need the cages that supermarkets use to move stuff from warehouse to shop floor!

Our first load of boxes. The people who were doing these, are not going to be around for the whole campaign and so wanted their boxes out of their storage as soon as possible. We were happy to oblige because it means we will have plenty to work on for training day which is the first day we are officially open.

So, if you are in TELFORD, start packing boxes!
Yes, I mean YOU!

Have fun, ask any questions you need to and I hope to meet you at the depot.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I want to try and blog the next few weeks, well, couple of months actually.
I figured here was as good a place as any because I believe that Operation Christmas Child is a ministry to children, on both ends of the programme.


Two main things
1. My town is getting a shoebox depot for the first time ever.
2. I will be going on a shoebox distribution trip to Belarus in December.

Note I wrote what do I hope to blog, not What will I be blogging. I KNOW that this is going to be a very busy time and will be doing no apologising if things do not go to plan.

I hope to blog about
* the setting up of our depot Which will happen starting next Monday, for about a week.
* the training day on Monday 3rd November
* Lots of photos
* collections, sorting, packing
* the day the container comes and we load up
* preparations for my trip to Belarus
And my experiences, thoughts, etc when I return.

Well, although we don't get the keys to the depot until Monday, things are afoot already, various problems we could do with solutions to, so I will start as soon as I can, hopefully late today, possibly tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

They DO take notice

Whatever we do, however we do it, they ARE watching!

What I love the most is about 1/3 of the way through, when someon obviously has gone to try and stop him, (presumably one of the parents) and you can hear the pastor say something like "it's OK, leave him". Superb.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Great OCC News

Great News on the OCC front!
We've been promised a warehouse!

We don't know which one or where yet, but one of the local estate agents has promised that he will find us something appropriate for the dates we want.
Basically it's down to a a change in the way in which they calculate the business rates or something. We pay them for the time we are there, and because of the the building's use gets re registered as a charity for that time, so we pay a lower rate. BUT and this is the biggy that change now applies for 6 months. We'll have the building for 5 weeks, so for the remainder of that 6 months the building owner benefits from the lower charity rate!

I'll let you know where as soon as I know!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Church Family Camp

That title is deceptive!
We do NOT camp! Heeheee! For crying out loud this is the end of September in Wales we're talking about here! We go to a place that has cabins, bungalows, static caravans, and camping space.

I'm not sure what we're staying in this year, we shall have to wait and see.

I have to work out something for the kids to do.

We do not think there are enough of them to warrant a separate room with separate activities mainly because that means that adults miss out on the few sessions for them, and we don't want that.
I think, at this stage I will have
One 5 year old, One 6 year old, One 9 year old, and Three 11 year olds. And the 5 year old may or may not go in with whatever the little ones are doing anyway.

There might be another two if I can persuade their family it's a good idea, that would be another 11 year old and a 10 year old I think.

Basically we'll have a table or two at the back of the adults room with activities for them to do on there quietly. If I can two of the bigger tables that works well because it means I can sit with my bible at one end of the table and try and follow the teaching.

I'm going to pick up some colouring books, some puzzle books, maybe some Narnia ones. I might take a few jigsaws or other physical puzzles. I'm unsure about the whole playdough thing, because of clearing up after each session.

Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Gosh, time for an update.
Where have I been? What have I been doing? What am I doing now?

1.) Right here, other than a weekend at the BEST storytelling festival in the world!
2.) I've been learning more stories, telling more stories, discovering the joy of falling in love with a particular story, breaking my car (water pump, hose, head gasket), therefore becoming a one car family for now, getting involved in the planning for our town's Operation Christmas Child Shoebox depot, for the first time ever, and finding out that I will be going on a shoebox distribution trip to Belarus in December!
3.) Feeling very bad about how long I have been away from all my blogs! Wanting very much to make blogging part of my life again, dieting (yes AGAIN), and planning for the new school year (us Brits don't go back for another week) and what happens on Sundays with the kids at church.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dr Good and the Strangers

As promised I will share some of my story telling stories on this blog.

One thing I haven't done in the two recordings I have done so far is quote an author in the actual recording, I WILL BE correcting that in future. But for now know that this story is

Dr Good and the Strangers
Bob Hartman


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I thought I'd also give you a short update on my OTHER job.

The sessions are going fine, we have a great group of kids in both locations, if a bit of a small group.

The problem is in the other aspect of the job. The main purpose of this post, when my friend took it on was to put together a team of volunteers, leaders and helpers, that could continue the clubs on after her paid period of time had ended. That's where the problem lies.

The paid period ends in 5 weeks time, at the end of the school term. My church has said they will include the time it takes me to DO the club in my hours from school starting back at the beginning of September, to the half term break at the end of October, but I do NOT want to start the clubs back up in September unless I know that they are going to continue without me AFTER the half term break, I do NOT think that would be fair to the children.

The 1st club, the vicar seems to think my friend is going to carry on running herself with him and one other volunteer, but she has told me that she's only going to do one every so often as far as leading is concerned, so I don't know what will happen there.

And the 2nd club has just lost one of its existing volunteer helpers. I have two parents that have said yes in September, when school starts back, they are willing to help out on a rota basis once a month, there is an older lady from the local church there who helps out when she can, but she can't do every week and anyway has stated clearly she doesn't have the energy any more to lead. I've explained to the vicar that I am concerned that there won't be anyone to lead when I leave and he seems to think that someone will come out of the woodwork at the last minute. But with 5 weeks left of the school term we're getting awfully close to the last minute already!
I don't know what to do. I certainly don't feel called to that area of town, and do not want to do this long term, but I don't want to let those kids down either. It's hard.

We're going to bus the kids across the county for the last week of term, to another club's fun day, and I am wondering whether there is money in the budget for the children to be bussed every week if that is the case. That way, even if the clubs have to end as they are now,t he worst case scenario is they get bussed to the other location. BUT that STILL needs adult volunteers to travel with the children in the bus! And it all costs money. Ho hum!

It's like someone said yesterday, if God wants the clubs to continue as they are, the people will come forward.

It's a Slow Start

I'm having a very slow start with the new job. Can't seem to get a response from any of the local schools, even when offering to do stuff at their summer fetes for free, which will bring more people into the fete and raise them more money!

Church leader with responsibility for my job says that this time of year schools really are not looking to get people in, they are trying to wind down for the summer (unlike our American friends we have another 5 weeks of school yet), and that no matter how good my pitch I will find it difficult. The thing is, I have also contacted a local church that we have good contacts with to offer to help out at their outreach day this coming weekend and got no response from that either. And I've sent in our forms for a local community fun day, and had no response from that either.

I feel like I'm banging my head up against a brick wall.

The main thing I'm doing with my paid time in the mean time is learning stories.

Oh, did I not tell you, I AM a storyteller. That means learning a story and reading it without a book! If I can get my act together I will share the stories with you as I learn them and even record me telling some of them and let you listen. And that's the main route we're trying with getting into the school initially, and what we're offering for other events such as summer fetes, etc.

So far I have learnt some bible stories, some local traditional folk tales, some stories that are not biblical but have a Christian theme, and I am going to be learning some traditional Jewish tales too.

I already shared one with a group of ladies I know online and one of them said my British accent was "SO BELIEVABLE" errrrm, YES, I live here! heeheeeheeee.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Can anyone say Karl was right?

heeheee, read the comments on my last post. Karl was right, and I am glad I listened to him and did not close this blog down.

Let me tell you a story.

This story starts about 3 months or so ago.
I went to a conference at a tiny church about 45 minutes drive from here, that I love to head out to whenever they have a conference on. This was with Sandy Zondervan, and was about how we pray differently for people at different stages of their walk, and also we got to do activation sessions, where we were putting into practice what we had learned. One of these sessions was about praying into the deep desires of someone's heart and speaking a word from God into that.

For that session, we paired off. I was partnered with one of the elderly ladies of the church, whom I absolutely LOVE, the spirit of God just drips off her. Well, I shared with her that the thing I really really want to be able to do is get into the local school and tell the kids about God, through school assemblies, etc.

So I prayed into her request and she prayed into mine. She spoke that she felt that the Lord was definitely going to be taking me into the schools, that she could see me in front of a classroom of children, talking to them all about Jesus, and that they were all wearing blue tops (remember most UK schools have uniform of some sort). I've only managed to get over there once since then, and she made a point of asking me if anything was happening yet. Nope, at that point, nothing!



Oh yes, God had an amazing plan.

About 5 weeks ago, the leader of our church phoned me up one Thursday and said he wanted me to stop working in the church office, (a 10 hour a week paid position) which kind of made me freak for a moment or two as even though it's only 10 hours a week, without it we could not pay the bills. But THEN he said that he wanted me to work the same number of hours, etc, but in the local schools doing assemblies, story telling etc! aarrrgggghhhhhhhhh! I literally ran around the house screaming after I got off the phone with him, I was Sooooooo excited!

Oh, a funny about it though. My husband and I were heading away for a weekend alone together on the Friday morning, and this church leader told me that while he wanted me to think about whether I would take them up on this offer, he didn't want me to think about it this weekend, while I was away. WHAT? I mean, he'd just offered me the one thing I'd wanted more than anything for years and he was telling me NOT to think about it? NO WAY that was happening.

So, the contract is initially until October with a review in September to see how we are doing.

THEN, the week after that, after hubby and I got home from our weekend, I was texting back and forth with a friend from our small group. She had been running a couple of after school clubs in local village schools, being paid to do that by the church of England. She texted me to say she had just resigned! AND she had already recommended me to the vicar, as her replacement! It's not a long term job, it was never meant to be, I'll explain more about that in another post, when I have more time.

So, I knew that was coming, and then, about a week after that I was emailing with the lady who is our area Co-Ordinator for Operation Christmas Child, the shoe box appeal. I had previously expressed an interest in making the trip to join a distribution team as they take the shoe boxes out to the children. But had told her there was NO WAY we could afford it and NO WAY our church would be able to sponsor me to do so at that time. So, THEN she told me that she had spoken to our regional manager and that he was really keen for me to go, and asked if I was still interested, because he had told her that they will never allow finances to be an issue when they feel that one of their volunteers (which I am) needs to go! Soooo, I put my name down. I won't know until the very end of the month, well actually, the beginning of next month, if I have been chosen, but it's all excited. I'll write more about details and the selection process in another post.

So that's where I am at. I've started the after school clubs for the church of England, I've done one school assembly at a school where they have a member of staff from our church, and I am being catapulted into my destiny.

Oooh, back to the story . . . . can you guess what colour sweatshirts every single one of these school has? YEP, BLUE!

I'll be heading back out to that church in the next few weeks to tell her face to face what God has done!

So expect more details soon, of how this all works and reports on what I'm doing!