Author Archives: Mike Reich

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.