OK team, I got through the last major chunk of name allocations last night, I’ve only got the people who signed up for more than 3 boxes left to allocate names to now. We have 3500 shoeboxes signed up for. Incredible. Note: when I say allocated, that doesn’t mean sent – I’m sending the names out in batches so my inbox doesn’t turn into a giant mess for the day and make reading anything impossible. On that note, I’m still prioritising getting the names allocated over replying to emails and messages (hence the blog updates trying to cover everything I’ve been asked all in one hit). Apologies in advance for the late replies that I’ll be sending next week!).

Most of you know by now that because of all of your awesome work through the year of sharing and spreading the word, we’ve had a lot more people signed up to deliver shoeboxes than we have kids across all the 16 low decile schools we’re working with this year. That’s very cool, and very much because of the way the team (you) have got behind and pushed the project out to friends and family.
It was also a bit of a problem, the very best kind. In previous years we’ve landed in the same position and there’s always the question asked “can’t we just go out to more kids, there must be more children in need?” – which of course is true, but logistically making that happen while the project is in full swing is not quite as easy as it sounds (time factor aside).
So, one of the many learnings for next year is to lock in the number of schools at the start and actually make that the target number of people we need signed up. I’ll still keep back up channels ready but we won’t need to push for sign ups after that number is reached.

Second learning is school principals are very busy, so start contacting them even earlier than this year!

Solving the best problem ever.
1) I’ve added a few of the school’s local ‘feeder’ pre-schools into the mix (so don’t be surprised if you’re delivering a Christmas smile to a child younger-than-primary school aged kid).
2) I’ve spoken with Women’s Refuge in the Hutt, Wellington City, and Porirua and have allocated out as many children as they can manage (remembering the awesome folk at DHL are helping us with storage space this year after nearly turning my floor at BNZ into a fire hazard with just 350 present last year, space for the elves to work in is important!). These are the kids that spend their Christmas Day in a Womens Refuge safe-house, or visit the centre because they don’t have anywhere else to go at Christmas. These guys definitely deserve an extra smile on what should be the happiest day of the year.

One thing each of the Refuge centres mentioned was that of all the presents they get dropped off, they really struggle when it comes to 8 – 16 year olds. So I’ve made a point of allocating those ages as well as the others, I tried my best to put these kids with shoeboxxers that also had a younger kid to buy for, so hopefully that evens things out since I know that’s a hard age bracket to present shop for.

What about mum?

If you’re allocated a Womens Refuge child and have the budget to help more then please think about getting something nice for the mother too, I’ll include instructions in the email but the bottom line is some of these women are in really tough spots and could also do with something special to smile about on Christmas Day.

I don’t have the names of the Womens Refuge children for privacy reasons but just like our little friends at the school these are local kids that you might see out and about with mum, they might share the same playground with your kids, grandkids or friends – but go home to a very different reality to some of us. Let’s make their Christmas Day as fun for them as it should be.

Talk soon,
Pera

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