Are You Joking?

I once had a manager who, when something silly, stupid, amazing or anything otherwise out of the ordinary happened would look at you and say ‘are you joking’ it became a catchphrase that I very quickly became fond of and I would even try and guess when he would say it so that I too could join in!

Not familiar with this phrase? Other variations of this might include: Are you for real?! Are you messing me?! Are you serious! Or just the good old.. wait what?! It’s really up to you how you chose to say it but is best accompanied by a face of sheer bamboozlement of what you have just seen or heard.

This Sunday as we collected food at Sainsbury’s Charlton, customers gave donations both large and small and a few gave their time to share their thoughts on the project and why they decided to donate this year. As they shared I found myself saying, out loud, you guessed it ‘are you joking’ accompanied with a very real and I’m sure very amusing shocked/surprised and sometimes even tearful expression.

I thought it only fair that I share some of those moments with you so we could be bamboozled together:

The moment when: A 5 year old makes you cry

It was a midday rush, donations were coming in left, right and centre, volunteers were changing over shifts, my phone is ringing of the hook and people are asking questions. When a young girl taps me on the pack. She’s with her mother and carrying an entire box of white chocolate advent calendars. She said:

“I wanted to make sure that other little girls had an advent calendar, because Christmas is my favourite!”

Now look me in the eye and say that’s not the cutest think you’ve

The moment when: You think it’s all over…

There was a football game at Charlton stadium and as the game started the shoppers entering the store significantly diminished. We had resigned ourselves to thinking we had already passed the peak of our days donations when, out of nowhere three different groups of people came over to donate an entire trolley of goods! When asked why the felt compelled to give so much one couple said:






“We have just splurged on a new bed for ourselves and now wanted to give back to someone else!”

The moment when: You’re in the car ready to leave and people hunt you down to donate!

Our two volunteers leading the day were packing their car ready to go home as the Sainsbury’s store was closing for the day. When a mother and daughter came out of the store looking around. Mike, our Big Red Box Project Director, optimistically walked over just to check they weren’t looking for us. They were! They wanted to donate a whole trolley worth of food. Mike said thank you and asked why? The woman became tearful and said:

“I was just so moved by what you’re doing”

She left Mike with the donation and went off home with only a small bag of shopping for herself.  Mike tells me he didn’t cry… NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT!

Thank you so much to everyone who came and donated on Sunday whether it was one tin, a whole trolley or somewhere in between. We were all so touched by your generosity and compassion for those in need in South East London.

A special thank you to all the staff at Charlton Sainsbury’s who were extremely kind and helped us along the way!

Don’t forget you can follow our progress on our website, Twitter and Facebook as well as our new Instagram page!


If you didn’t get a chance to donate this year but would like to help why not donate here and we can buy the food for you!

Merry Christmas Charlton, see you next year!

Success at Sainsbury’s Charlton

Sunday was an incredible success at Sainsbury’s in Charlton. We had a fantastic welcome from both customers and staff as we arrived for the opening of the store at 10:30am. It never ceases to amaze myself and all of our volunteers at how warm and generous the shoppers are and with how much food we accumulate across the day.

Our volunteers were extremely touched when one lady returned a whole basket of goods to us and when asked why she wanted to donate so much food she replied:

“I have never been homeless, but I have been broke and hungry. I’ve been there and that’s why I want to donate”.

Lots of young children with their parents got involved showcasing our new Big Red Box stickers! One father explained:

“I love getting my children involved, I get to spoil them at Christmas which is great but it’s powerful and humbling to understand that there are people who have a lot less than us and we can help them in many ways including through projects like this”.

Big Red Box is just that, a gift, a small gesture of compassion to those who need not only food but hope this Christmas.

Help us in our mission to share hope this Christmas! We will be continuing our collections this weekend at Sainsbury’s Sydenham on Saturday from 9am and Sunday from 11am and we would love to see you there.

You can also click here to find out more ways you can get involved.

Big Red Box 2017 – The Countdown Begins

It is coming up to that wonderful time of year again and I have already started counting down the days until Christmas! (it’s 83 days by the way). I’m keen I know, but admit it we’ve all got our winter coats out, started wrapping up warm, drinking hot chocolates and dreaming about our perfect Christmas dinner.

Here at Big Red Box we are gearing up to make sure that families and individuals who might otherwise go without at Christmas, can have their own big Christmas feast. Our Christmas hampers are comprised of 20 items which are a mix of essentials and Christmas treats like; tinned veg, pasta, sauces, mince pies and Christmas puddings. Last year we smashed our target and filled enough boxes to bring the 2016 total up to 1760 Big Red Boxes, these were distributed across South East London just in time for Christmas, so a massive thank you to everyone who helped make this possible last year donating; food items, money or your time to help those in need. It never ceases to amaze us how generous people in the community are. Whether you donated one tin, one pound or one hour, it really is the case that a little goes a long way.

Thanks so much to all of those who helped us in 2016, we hope to work with you again this Christmas!

So here we go again, Big Red Box 2017… watch this space to find out; how you can get involved; how many boxes we’ve packed and to see where your donation goes.

Don’t forget you can also follow us via the links below to get more regular updates on the project and our progress this year.




Let the countdown begin!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

A huge thanks to everyone who has contributed to Big Red Box this year. Big Red Box has managed to collect enough food to make up 1355 boxes, with more boxes still coming in…

This is at least 1355 families who would otherwise go without some of the luxuries at Christmas. Mince pies, Christmas puddings, Chocolates for the kids and the family. Some of the families would struggle to feed their family or even themselves on a regular basis, and the pasta, rice, meat and sauces will go a long way to helping them to do this.

So thank you to everyone who has donated anything to Big Red Box – whether it be food or time. We couldn’t have done it without you.

1355 Big Red Boxes in 2015

1355 Big Red Boxes in 2015


There is a huge list of people and companies to thank – too many to mention them all, but some people have come to collect food at Supermarkets as well as sort through food and pack boxes more than a dozen times – you know who you are and thank you so much.

We are grateful to the supermarkets who have partnered with us. Some have let us come into their stores and collect food from their customers.

  • Sainsbury’s Sydenham – Special thanks to Amanda, Karl, Nick, Paul and the rest of the team as well as the amazingly generous customers who gave so much to Big Red Box 2015
  • Sainsbury’s Lee Green – Thanks to Terry, Stacey and the team
  • Co-op Downham – Special thanks to Jey and the team
  • Waitrose Bromley – Thanks for the donations on behalf of your customers – 100% of the donated money was spent on food for the boxes
One of the stunningly generous donations of food!

One of the stunningly generous donations of food!

Thanks also go to local companies who have adopted Big Red Box as their Christmas charity.

  • JP Morgan – provided a truly staggering amount of food. It was hard to count it up, but the two van loads of food was enough to fill 150-200 boxes for local families. As a direct result we were able to expand our donations to charities in Tower Hamlets for the first time
  • Direct Line Bromley – provided many boxes of food and items to top up boxes
Photos of JP Morgan's efforts

Photos of JP Morgan’s efforts

Thanks also to the schools who grouped together in year groups and classes to donate to Big Red Box – we had some truly impressive donations from schools this year!

  • Ravensbourne Primary School
  • Adamsrill Primary School
  • Baring Primary School
  • Dog Kennel Hill Primary School
  • Morden Mount Primary School
  • Rathfern Primary School
  • Ravensbourne Secondary School
  • Sandhurst Primary School
  • St Michael’s Church of England Primary School
  • Trinity Primary School
  • Trinity Secondary School

Finally, this is very much a team effort with Simon, Dave & Alice making up the core team in the office – they go above and beyond in ensuring that Big Red Box runs efficiently and do their very best to ensure that boxes get to the right people at the right time. They are Big Red Box heroes.

Please check back early in the new year for a breakdown of what boxes went where, together with some feedback we’ve received from those who gave them out and those who received them.

So thank you, thank you and thank you to everyone who has supported us this year – whether or not you are mentioned above. And we hope and pray that every person who receives a box enjoys their Christmas more than they might otherwise do.

I wish you all a very happy, restful and blessed Christmas.

Where can I drop off my food donation?

There are multiple drop off points for Big Red Box this year, whether you’ve filled a box, have a bag full of food or just one item – anything and everything you give is much appreciated.

We will be collecting food every Sunday at our Lee, Downham and Catford sites during our service times:

Catford Site, Catford Hill SE6 4PS: 9:30am – 1pm & 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Downham Site, The Green Downham Way BR1 5LS: 9.30am – 1pm
Lee Site, 21 Meadowcourt Road, SE3 9EU: 10:30am – 12noon

We are also able to take food at the Catford Site Monday – Friday between 9am and 5pm.

We have three collection weekends coming up at local supermarket stores so if you haven’t bought your Big Red Box donation food yet please join us on one of the following dates and hand your food to one of our fabulous volunteers:

Co-Op Downham: Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November
Sainsbury’s Lee Green: Friday 27th Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November
Co-Op Downham: Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th December

We have already packed over 380 boxes this year, but we still need your help to reach our goal of 1000 Big Red Boxes! Any and all items of food help us to achieve that goal but if you can help we are particularly short of the following food items:

  • Fruit Juice (long life)
  • Christmas Puddings
  • Custard
  • Rice Pudding
  • Rice
  • Mince Pies
  • UHT Milk
  • Jam
  • Cereal
We'll be back again soon!

We shouldn’t be too hard to spot, we’re the ones wearing these great t-shirts!

This year we have also partnered with Kings Christmas Trees and will have Big Red Box drop off areas at their tree collection points in Catford, Beckenham and Deptford. For more information about the Kings Christmas Tree project, how to buy a tree and where there collection points are please check out their website.

Tree (2)



Why am I involved? – A Volunteers Story

Cathy, one of our fantastic Big Red Box Volunteers, tells her inspirational story about how she got involved with Big Red Box, and the hurdles she encountered on her journey.

What we love most about this story is that it’s not how we envisaged Big Red Box impacting people’s lives at all, but it’s amazing to see such great, if unplanned, consequences through projects like this. Cathy never even received a food hamper but it’s a heart-warming story about how she was impacted by the initiative to the extent that her life has changed and she is a key volunteer.

“In 2013 I was not in a very good place. My grandson Levi, who was just four years old, was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly in the summer of that year, Levi passed away. My personal storm had begun: I was angry, bitter and negative about everything. Whilst on the outside I would smile, my inner glow had disappeared, which in turn took away both my confidence and my ability to mix or talk to people. I just felt pain and heart-broken.

“I just kept asking why? I took most things for granted. I never took the time to appreciate those precious moments. My thoughts were not of where my life was leading, but of what I needed in my life. I had locked my inner self away. I had suffered a loss, which caused me to be sad and lonely.

“I remember one day close to Christmas going to Sainsbury’s in Sydenham to do my weekly shop, and saw some people at the entrance. They had red t-shirts on and were collecting food.

“I stopped for a while and just watched them. These people looked so happy, busy collecting food and giving out leaflets. I took a leaflet and went into the store. I collected some food on the list they had given me. As I came out they had gone. So I called King’s Church and arranged to drop the food off.

“When I did I was greeted and thanked by two very friendly young people. A warm and peaceful feeling brought a smile to my face.

“It was not until around a year later that I found the courage to go back to King’s Church, and got involved with Big Red Box. I do not mind telling you I was very nervous as I was not used to mixing with people, let alone smiling and asking for food. My fears where squashed as I was given a t-shirt. Mike Reich (Project Director) and the team soon put me to work. It made me feel humble as I saw what people gave. Everyone just kept smiling and packing boxes. It meant so much to me.

“I am so glad to be a part of Big Red Box.”

To find out more about how you can get involved with Big Red Box, follow us on twitter and facebook or check out our website.

A Big Red Box – Big Weekend

That was an amazing weekend! Over the weekend of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th October, Big Red Box was based in the foyer of Sainsbury’s, Sydenham and it was an incredible event for so many reasons.

We filled over 90 volunteers slots over the three days, our volunteers are amazingly kind and supportive and we certainly could not do it without them. If you popped in over the weekend i’m sure you saw them handing out flyers, packing crates or loading cars with one of the 230+ crates filled to the brim with food.

Some of the Big Red Box team

Some of the Big Red Box team

Throughout the weekend, many of the Sainsbury’s shoppers who donated so generously were keen to stop with the volunteers and chat about why they wanted to give. We had several amazing encounters and conversations about the customer’s motivations for giving – far too many to fit into one post though!

It was incredible to see people’s generosity. Some folks were kind enough to drop a can or two into the trolley, others a bag or two, whilst some stunned the team by donating whole trolley loads of food. We were thrilled and honoured to see the community come together with their willingness to help others in the community who are less fortunate than themselves at the moment, and we just loved seeing strangers get involved in Big Red Box and wanting to understand more about who we are and what it is we do.

We had some fantastic encounters with customers who wanted to be involved with the project, Helen, one of our volunteers told how one lady had asked when we’d be back again, and had to tell her we were only there for that weekend and she replied:

“Ok I will be back tomorrow with some custard for you.”

When Helen asked her why custard specifically, she replied:

“I was recipient of a Big Red Box a couple of years ago. It helped my family massively at the time but I didn’t have custard in my box and would have loved some with the Christmas pudding!”

It was fantastic to here how someone who needed a Big Red Box only two years ago was now in a better position where she was able to give something back and make sure some other families got custard this year.

One of the stunningly generous donations of food!

One of the stunningly generous donations of food!

Helpers of all ages were there, from 5 to 75, and one of our teenage volunteers, Indigo said:

“The response from the local community is amazing. It’s unbelievable how generous some people are – today a woman donated a whole trolley of food using the nectar points she had collected over the  past year or so.”

A really friendly shopper approached Alice, another volunteer and summed up the project in fantastically simple terms…

“It’s a great project because it gives people in need something to eat… and everybody needs to eat!”

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and people loved giving food as they knew where it was going – to the local community – and that they were able to make a direct impact into someone else’s life, maybe even one of their neighbours.

Thanks to both Sainsbury’s, Sydenham, as well as their incredibly generous customers for all their support over the weekend.

We'll be back again soon!

We’ll be back again soon!

Big Red Box responds to Refugee Crisis

For those of you who don’t know us, Big Red Box is a project which provides hampers of food to the families most in need within our community. Last year we managed to distribute 1096 boxes through Social Services, health visitors, homeless charities and other fantastic local organisations and charities.

This year we are also continuing our partnership with the Lewisham Refugee Network and will be prioritising getting Big Red Boxes out to them as soon as is practically possible in order to support any refugees in need of help, including those from Afghanistan, Vietnam as well as from North West Africa.

We are also liaising with several local Members of Parliament to see how we can help support those refugees who are or will be arriving in London in the coming weeks.

There are many ways in which you can get involved and help us share hope in the local community:

  • Volunteer: We are always looking for volunteers to help us pack and organise boxes. Or you can join us at local supermarkets to collect food and share the mission of Big Red Box with our community. This year we will be going to Sainsbury’s in Sydenham to collect food on Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October.
  • Donate: You can donate through our Just Giving page on our website. All money contributed will go towards food to fill the boxes.
  • Fill a box: If you, your school or your business would like to get involved with Big Red Box, please contact us and we can set up a meeting!
  • Follow us: You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and on our blog. Keep up to date with all the work we’re doing and find out what difference your contribution makes!

If you would like to donate, volunteer or if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact us at


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.