Kia ora team,

Firstly the call to action:

I love reading about and seeing the awesome gifts that some of the team have already started sending through. There’s been a few people commenting and messaging about how they’ve had their kids involved, and how valuable it is having them understand why their family is helping another family in a position not as good as their own. As a new-to-the-game dad, I love that even more, and I know there’s some (science backed) health and happiness benefits to kids giving to others, and sharing – so I’m really keen to make this a big part of the project.

Please comment below with any ideas you have on how I could make it easier for you to involve your kids in the giving, and anything else you think would help make it a learning experience for them. Just like including the kids’ interests this year, I’ll listen to whatever ideas you have and where possible, figure out a way to make them happen.

And now the updates; 

I THINK I’ve sent names to nearly everyone that had completed the sign up properly and clicked the confirmation emails I sent out in September. I’m more than a little bit stoked that there were only a few hiccups in the emails that went out. I was expecting to send a lot more apology messages, and to spend a lot more time back in the spreadsheet with kids and shoeboxers details moving info one cell over to the left etc.

I’ve received the last school’s list of names and details so I’m allocating and sending those out tonight. A work-mate put me in touch with Porirua Alternative School and I’ll be adding their kids to the list too. They’re a really small school focused on helping slightly older kids (13- 16), most of whom have grown up in pretty tough situations, and have challenges in the ordinary schooling system.

I’ll make my way down the list with these and my first priority will be those that haven’t received a kid at all yet. So not everyone will get their second, third or fourth child sorry! …Actually I’m not sorry – because having more people sign up than kids across the schools and Womens Refuge Centres is a really, really cool thing to go wrong! I’m also meeting with Family Works next week to talk about other children we can give to this year – so even if you don’t get your third or fourth name tomorrow, it might still happen.

If you haven’t got your kid’s details please click here to read the FAQs first before emailing me – as you can imagine there’s quite a few messages coming through at the moment and replying to them all is taking up a decent chunk of my day before and after work – it’s not that I don’t want to reply to you personally – I just want to spill a little less Weetbix on my laptop in the morning. Hopefully the FAQs will answer some of those questions up front 🙂

 The gift ideas page is now up and running here – this is going to be a team-driven spot where I’ll save the awesome ideas everyone is sharing on the Facebook page so you don’t need to hunt through hundreds of comments to find them. There’s already a few up there but please keep sending them through and I’ll add them as we go.

You might (or might not) have noticed I put my peculiar looking face on the front page of the site, I’ve always thought it’s strange to have the face of people that run charities on their websites, but I think I understand why they do it now;
The Shoebox Christmas Project relies on over 2000 people being able to trust me, to know that all of these presents are going to where I say they’re going, that any donations are going to the costs of the project, and that their investment in time and money is being well placed. Whether a question of honesty or capability, it’s vital that everyone believes that what I say is going to happen, will. So I think it’s important that I put my name and face to the project, and that you guys all know who I am and that you have trust and confidence in me. That’s why I sign everything off as ‘Pera’ or ‘Pera Barrett’, and not ‘Mysterious Shoebox Christmas Team’. If you’ve heard of the Hogan’s personality test I’m an 8 for recognition, which means I don’t respond well to to recognition. So it’s not actually something I would do if I didn’t think I needed to.

The downside though, is that if anything goes wrong – it’s still my name and face attached. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous about that over the last few weeks. I’ve sent a few thousand emails, to a couple thousand people I don’t know, with a lot of information needing to line up, a lot of reliance on technology that isn’t mine, and a lot of late night grimaces backed up with crossed fingers and toes that the information was right. I realise I’m not setting up people’s life insurance plans here, but getting it wrong is getting it wrong. And if you think just because the thing that went wrong was for a good cause people will pat you on the back and leave it at that, you’re wrong.

OK, time to start putting this last list of names into the spreadsheet, for everyone that’s started the shopping phase, have fun!

Talk soon,

Things to do differently next year: 
  1. Allow more time for (and anticipate) fixing the stuff that does go wrong, because I think it was more luck than design that meant things went as smoothly as they did. Don’t rely on that luck next year!
  2. Put a limit on how late into the night I’ll check over the emails and database before I hit send. That’s almost exclusively when the mistakes happened.
  3. Take more time off work to get the admin/allocating done – I had 3 days off by chance, but because I was also re-building the website, that wasn’t nearly enough.
  4. Use Gmail for the back and forth emails to take advantage of auto-response!
  5. Take breaks on spreadsheet days! I use a Pomodoro timer system to get through the stuff I need to do, but I tend to click straight through the break sections when they pop up. (If you don’t know what the Pomodoro technique, it’s not a type of hat, I’ll probably post more about it later!)



One thought to “Well that wasn’t too embarrassing”

  • Sandra

    Kia Ora Pera and whanau as we know your little whanau are just as much a part of this
    I think it’s all done so well. There us aways room for change/improvement but I honestly can’t say what that would be lol. My oldest girl lives the idea of gifting. Only possible suggestion would he could activity vouchers be a thing? I’m all for giving memories of doing things . Be cool if a class could get vouchers for eg the zoo and go as a class by the school so no one misses out. I know low decide schools can also have low budgets


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