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Big Red Box 2013

Our theme for Christmas 2013 was HOPE. In addition to the Carol services which saw over 3,500 people attending, we were able to share hope through our King’s Christmas Trees and Big Red Box intiatives.

We had an incredible response and collected 776 boxes – over three times the number of boxes we received in each of the previous two years! As a result, hundreds of families and individuals were blessed over Christmas.

Each box contained a mix of essential items and Christmas treats, and were distributed through partner organisations such as Social Services and local charities.

We are so grateful to everyone who partnered with us, and are especially grateful to Sainsbury’s in Sydenham and Lee Green as well as the Co-op in Downham for allowing us to collect in their stores. The response from local customers and employees was both overwhelming and humbling.

We look forward to blessing even more families in December 2014…

What Big Red Box is all about

I’d like you to close your eyes and imagine what Christmas will be like for you and your family this year.

Whether you’re spending it at home or with family or friends it will probably be an impressive feast! Imagine the tree with twinkling lights and the numerous presents surrounding it. For you, perhaps for your children if you have any, and for your family or friends you’ll be spending the day with. Aromas are filling the warm and cosy house. The turkey is cooked and resting whilst the ‘taters, parsnips and pigs in blankets are roasting. On the hob the gravy is bubbling, the bread sauce is piping hot and the carrots are nearly perfect. In the dining room, the table is beautifully laid with more cutlery than you knew existed and crackers fighting for space with wine glasses, party poppers and candles that are brought out for this special day.

Now forget all that. And consider this. You’ve been awake for hours on Christmas morning – not because of excited children, but because you’re shivering due to how cold it is. There’s no money to top up the fuel meter. There’s no tree as that’s a luxury you can ill afford. There are a few presents for the children because you can’t bear for them to go without. They’re not much but they’re better than nothing. There’s no family coming as you have none to speak of – or none in the country. It’s just you and your children. There’s no aroma of a roast dinner – lunch isn’t going to be any different today compared to any other day. You’ll be cobbling together whatever you can from the nigh on empty cupboard. No fancy candles, wine glasses, party poppers or crackers in this house. And this is the story in many houses throughout the borough. For some it’s worse, they don’t even have a home – they dream of having roof over their heads this Christmas.

So what difference can we make? One of the easiest ways to help those that don’t have a house is to buy a King’s Christmas Tree. Many of us will buy a tree anyway, but when you buy one of these high quality trees, 100% of the proceeds goes towards the Jericho Road Project – a project set up to help those without anywhere to call home. To provide 4,500 three course meals each year. To provide beds for 28 people every night of the year. That’s over 10,000 nights in a bed for people in this borough. 10,000 nights when people, often those who are vulnerable and have nowhere else to go, can sleep in a bed in a heated house rather than sleeping rough on the streets.

What else can you do? You can contribute to the Big Red Box project. A Big Red Box will provide both families and individuals with basics and treats that they otherwise wouldn’t have. They’ll be able to have a cup of tea or coffee on Christmas morning. Just as they like it – milky with one and a half sugars. The children can enjoy some vitamin-rich fruit juice as a special treat and even have some cereal for breakfast.

For lunch, there’s an embarrassment of riches compared to usual. There’s meat, vegetables, pasta amongst others. For pudding there’s a choice of rice pudding, custard, mince pies (Taste the Difference with extra brandy!) and even a Christmas pudding that serves everyone twice over. There are biscuits to munch on when they feel a bit moreish. There is more food in a Big Red Box than some households would normally eat in a week. To top it all, there’s a Christmas chocolate selection box which children can’t wait to eat.

Through contributing to a Big Red Box or even buying a whole one, you are helping families in this borough to have something this Christmas when otherwise they might have nothing. Many of us are blessed to have a roof over heads, and can afford to give presents to our family, even if our circumstances don’t permit us to be as generous as we might want to be.

By supporting one or both of these Christmas initiatives at King’s, you’re helping others to have a Christmas they might otherwise not have. You’re blessing others, as Jesus exhorted us to do on many occasions. And you will also find yourself blessed.

And as Tiny Tim says in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this Christmas in Lewisham, in 2013, May God bless us, everyone.

An amazing start

What a start.

The last week has seen Big Red Box get off to a great start. 1000s of flyers have been distributed, over 100 boxes given out and we are seeing interest from schools, companies and individuals. One company is even having a Big Red Box day to raise funds for even more boxes.

But the big news of the week was the visit to Sainsbury’s, Sydenham last Sunday. A number of the people from King’s Church London were standing in the foyer distributing flyers and asking shoppers to contribute one or two items of food to Big Red Box so that we can distribute them to the neediest families and others who are disadvantaged in Lewisham.

The result? People donated in droves. We filled 68 boxes completely, and in scenes reminiscent from the story of the loaves and fishes had 4 or 5 trollies of leftovers to go into other boxes. There were scenes of abundant generosity as some people came up to us with a whole bag full of food. We thanked them profusely for their contribution, and they turned around and pulled another bag or two from their shopping trolley! It was fantastic to be part in such an incredible day witnessing such acts of kindness.

The people who volunteered were only meant to be “on shift” for 90 mins, but most stayed for over 3 hours as there was so much to do and it was such an awesome experience to be a part of. It was really humbling to watch the generosity of complete strangers.

It got me wondering how we had manage to collect thousands of pounds worth of food in just a few hours. And I think it’s partly due to the fact that this is a local initiative. The people who will be receiving a box could be their friend. Or their neighbour. Or someone else they know.

But this is just the beginning. There are 1000s of people in Lewisham who are in desperate need of support this Christmas. And through Big Red Box we are hoping to reach more families than ever this year.

So what can you do? Well you can get a list, get some food and give it in.

Or you can come down and show your support on one of the next two supermarket visits:
– Co-op Downham on Saturday 30th November
– Sainsbury’s Sydenham again on Friday 13th December.