Kia ora team,

Lots of reviewing going on at the moment – a week or so back I caught up with the awesome Lisa Southall from Taranaki Shoebox Christmas.

We traded ideas, learnings, and figured out how we’re going to use the awesome new database that my friend has been building to work together and make things easier for you – very exciting. It’s been super cool to see how much of a difference Lisa and her crew have making in Taranaki, and super cool  x3 to hear about her plans to do even more this year.

Then earlier this week I caught up with a few of the schools and the DHL team to review what worked and what didn’t work in 2016, from their perspective.

Between those conversations we pretty much have the process sorted for this year – I just need to process map it out, check that everything makes sense, and then we’ll be good to go.

Since both Glenview and Cannons Creek School had kids who received Stationery Starter Packs when they started College and Intermediate (that you guys helped supply), we spent a lot of time talking about how we’re going to run that this year. I really want to build it into something that motivates the kids to do, or complete something that will benefit their learning and future – we’ve got what I think is a good idea – but more on that later!

As well as talking through their pain points and brain-storming how to fix those, we talked about the common themes that came through in your feedback and the survey I sent out to the team after last year’s project. I was interested to hear if they saw any of the same stuff from the kids themselves.

Here’s how the discussion went:

Feedback/comment: Why didn’t we give the presents to the kids to take home and open there?


This was something I left up to the schools, because I figured they knew best. Here’s what they had to say.

A lot of the kids most in need, come from fairly big families. We didn’t think giving one of those kids a present when their siblings at home may not get the same, was the right thing to do.

Ownership can also be a really tricky thing for some of these kids to assert at home, with personal space often being in short supply – when they arrived at home with their un-wrapped present, it’s already theirs, and there’s less chance of anyone else claiming it.

(Pera) personally, for both the kids-in-need, and the ones that are doing OK, I really like the fact that by opening the presents together with their school and class-mates, we’re helping to strengthen the bond and community that these kids build at school. The more of those communities they belong to, and the stronger the ties, the better. We’ve needed those networks since we ran around in packs hunting to survive.

One of the teachers said the Christmas un-wrapping will likely go down as one of their best memories of school ever for a lot of the kids. In her words “It was amazing. Having all the kids together unwrapping them? Oh. My. God.”

If you missed the video of Cannons Creek Primary opening theirs, check it out below. It was a pretty exceptional day, and I wasn’t even unwrapping any presents!

Feedback/comment: There was obviously a big range of what people paid for their presents. I’m worried my kid will be jealous that I didn’t spend as much as the person who bought their neighbour’s present.

“Most of our kids were just thrilled to get anything, and for it to be theirs.”

The teachers pointed out that the kids wouldn’t actually have a clue what most of those incredible things stuffed into their shoeboxes cost, and that there was nothing but gratitude from any of the kids.

(Pera) I saw this happen, I saw kids unwrapping presents side by side, that (to me) obviously came with quite different price tags, but both kids faces looked the same: ecstatic. They both clutched their presents tightly to their chests. And while they showed each other what they got, they were way too excited about their own to try and figure out what theirs, and then their neighbours, might have actually cost to buy.

I think this one is more of an adult concern, and not so much something that the kids we’re trying to help think about.

It was good to get the perspective of the schools on these, and I’m glad to know some of the things a lot of us were worried about as adults, didn’t actually bother the kids!

Getting closer and closer to that time when we start signing up and allocating kids names guys – I hope you’re ready to start spreading the word!

Talk soon,




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