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!