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to feel angry and upset over a charity Chritsmas Box being sent to kids who are NOT needy...

(90 Posts)
PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 12:38:27

As some of you may know, I am british and live in Bosnia.

My DS (4) just came home from school today beaming because he'd been given a big box of presents. All the kids had been given one. Lovely thought. On closer inspection though I have found that this is a Christmas box sent out by a certain christian charity in the UK. Now, I have nothing against these boxes, I think they are a very kind of people and a great way of getting kids to think of others in less fortunate positions...

HOWEVER I feel extremely uncomfortable with this gesture for the following reasons:

- the nursery school is a private one, and knowing the parents that send their kids there, the families are far from needy, and are in fact quite well off. These kids definitely don't fit the criteria being described on the charity's website.

- the content was very thoughtful (pens, sweets, soap, craft stuff, a cuddly toy, even a roll of blank paper to draw on) but nothing that kids here, even those with less well-off families, couldn't get hold of cheaply... Kids here, rich or poor, are spolit (in the nicest sense of the word) and don't really lack stuff like this. I know that this is just a matter of someone in the charity not knowing the reality of a country like this, of the availability and pricing of children's things, but it makes me feel very bad for the child that sent it.

- ironically, the label on the box is bilingual (welsh english) suggesting it was sent by a child in wales... which is where I am from... she may even be from the same town for all I know... which would make it ever so sad and ironic. There is a photo of the little girl in the box, with her name and age on the back, and I feel really really upset on her behalf that all the effort she has gone to has been misplaced.

- some of the content was definitely Christmas-ey... and sent to a school where probably 90% are muslim. This is not a country/area where anybody would be angry about this, or even slightly annoyed, but it was a bit careless of the ditributor(s), I think.

I am assuming that there is a communication or corruption problem somewhere along the route between the christmas box drop-off centre and the final destination. There are needy kids in Bosnia, war orphans for example, but it is not a desperately poor country like many others in the world... and the war ended 13 years ago, life is peaceful, normal, and despite the usual everyday whinging about the price of bread or whatever, it is really not a poor or difficult country to live in (scuse the to post this quickly before going off to work blush).

As an immediate thought, we want to send something nice to the little girl in the photo or offer to help the school send a thank you to all the kids over there that sent these things. Sadly, not sure if the charity will give us the details though since it could highlight a mistake.

We are definitely not going to keep the gifts. We will find a way of passing them on to kids that need them more than our DS, or who at least got fewer presents than he did for Eid/XMas!! (the grandparents visited and he got thoroughly spolit!!).

I also really think the charity should be told where these boxes end up. Hopefully this is the only batch that didn't reach needy children.

Oh, and this is not because my son has received charity (although I can imagine that some of the other parents will be mightily miffed by that!).

Ah. Rant over. Thanks for following. So AIBU? I feel so angry for the little girl.

potoftea Fri 04-Jan-08 12:46:56

I can understand how you feel.
We always do a couple of these boxes and feel that we do them with love for those less well off than us, and to remind our family of just how lucky we are.
The child who sent the box your son received will still believe (like I do about our boxes) that a needy child got it, so don't be upset on her behalf.
But the point is that there are children who need this box whereas your son doesn't, so I think you should contact the charity in question and point out their mistake.
Hopefully it is a once off error, but you should point it out to them anyway.

glinda Fri 04-Jan-08 12:50:13

Oh heavens this post makes me feel really sad. So many people - children, families schools and well meaning volunteers working so hard and trying to do the right thing, but getting it so wrong. sad
What a waste of good will, hard work and money!
I know a lady who spends months of her own time organizing and collecting shoeboxes full of pressies every autumn. She is a lovely lady who gives an enormous amount of time to this work. I hope and pray that this isn't her charity. I hardly dare ask, but which charity was involved.

...<Glinda runs away and covers her ears so that she can't hear the answer>

TheDuchessOfNorksBride Fri 04-Jan-08 12:50:17

Assuming you're sure everyone at the nursery is financially secure and nobody has assisted places etc, then I don't think you're being unreasonable. If there are poorer parents at the nursery, then 'blanket coverage' of the boxes is kinder and those that don't need the gifts can just pass them on, as you are.

Otherwise, I would definitely speak/write to the charity in question and explain that the boxes have not been used appropriately - on wealth & religious grounds.

FluffyMummy123 Fri 04-Jan-08 12:51:24

Message withdrawn

MrsWeasley Fri 04-Jan-08 12:53:40

Perhaps you should write to the charity concerned and they can look into how they are distributed in that area.

oranges Fri 04-Jan-08 13:01:05

weren't there concerns about this charity anyway, deliberately sending Christmas presents to Muslim areas, as part of a conversion policy?

PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 13:37:21

Oh that makes me feel worse, glinda, to think that some people spend so much time on the boxes. I keep telling myself that I can"t change the world and that I can"t know about the destinations of the other millions of boxes sent out around the world.

It wasn"t MakeAWish, btw. Not going to say which it is, wouldn"t be fair. There wasn"t any religious agenda with the box, just that I think the little girl put in some christmasey things and it wasn"t checked. Or maybe the local distributor knew there wouldn"t be an issue around here. I checked the US version of the charity"s site though and they do say that they send out leaflets in the boxes form there to spread the word about Jesus and christianity... not an idea I agree with.

Good point duchess. No such thing as subsidised places here though, and by now we know all the parents and what they do and what shoe sixe they wear!! Only joking but it is that sort of small town!!! (That wasn"t a typo there... just a strange keyboard I am on... turkish I think).

I like what you are saying potoftea. The little girl will still feel she has done a good thing and that is a big part of the programme, isn"t it.

DH just called the charity office in London but the person who would know about distribution in bosnia is off ill for a few days so we will email them I think.

SatsumaMoon Fri 04-Jan-08 13:44:28

My kids prepared some of these boxes this year - tbh I was not very comfortable with it because of the nature of the charity organising it - was concerned they would be stuffing Christian evangelical leaflets in the boxes! - though to be fair they did say in the literature that they would take account of local cultures before putting anything in. In the end I did let the dcs prepare some boxes because they wanted to and I felt it is good to learn about giving to others.

Agree that the charity is getting things seriously wrong if they are sending the boxes to areas where help is not needed....

wotz Fri 04-Jan-08 13:49:41

I have done these Christmas Boxes before, not sure if I would do it again now.

Would you feel uncomfortable putting the charity on here? It would be a shame for all of them to be given a bad name.

PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 13:53:33

Just went back to the website for another look and they specifically say that the boxes go from the UK to children in hospitals, orphanages, Internally Displaced Persons camps, homeless shelters and impoverished neighbourhoods. Well, none of those apply. At all.

Also that the box will be hand delivered to a child in need. It was hand delivered but by nursery staff to children not in need.

On top of all that the kind people who send out these boxes are required to give a donation of 2 GBP per box for distribution, transport, processing and promotion.

Oh dear. I am just winding myself up here. Will just sleep on it and write to the charity tomorrow. It"s the only thing I can do from here.

PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 13:57:54

I know what you mean Wots (sorry, last letter of english alphabet not on this keyboard!!) and I hadn"t thought of the implications of that when I posted... hmm, but I really don"t want to post the name, it feels wrong. I will however say Yes or No if anyone wants to ask if it was a particular charity. Would that make it ok, do you think?

Wisteria Fri 04-Jan-08 14:03:26

Oh FGS just out them!

At least you will then let those of us who do spend time and energy on filling the darn things be a little more knowledgeable.

and thank you for bringing this to our attention, I always wondered about the veracity of these things - don't mind filing the boxes but do resent the extra funds for transport and admin etc.

PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 14:03:46

Don"t stop doing them though. Please. They are a lovely thing to do. There are just sometimes problems along the route which charities need to be aware of, clearly. Ever optimistic, I am sure that the vast majority of the other boxes went to the right people.

I have decided that we will give the bits to the grandson of the chap who keeps his goats on our field. They are not poor, but not rich iykwim, and far closer to the children described on the charity"s website than any of the kids in nursery. They fled here during the last war because they were hounded out of their village by serbs. They lost their home and land, and although they have settled in nicely here and have recuperated what they had (in kind), they are still not "at home". But it will have to be given to him little by little or otherwise we will receive a similar sised gift back from them, as is normal here!!

PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 14:06:08

wisteria, just for you: they are not one of the really big christmas box charities, if that makes it any better. Initials are SP.

That"s all I can give. Sorry.

wotz Fri 04-Jan-08 14:06:39


PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 14:07:24

is that who you gave to wots?

wotz Fri 04-Jan-08 14:10:04

My dds school collected nearly 300 of these this Christmas, and have done so for the last 5 years. So I think that's quite big. One school and over 50% of the school giving boxes.

I am quite angry and sad for those who should be getting them. The distribution sounds rubbish to me.

LadyMuck Fri 04-Jan-08 14:10:08

If it is Samaritan's Purse then it is most commonly known as Operation Christmas Child, and that is one of the big ones in the UK IIRC.

wotz Fri 04-Jan-08 14:10:59

PSL - yes that was the charity

wotz Fri 04-Jan-08 14:11:40

Link here

yurt1 Fri 04-Jan-08 14:12:13

samaritans purse are notorious for this aren't they? I stopped doing xmas boxes for them- ds2 and ds3's school, now does one that is run by someone who collects and delivers one lorryload himself- they work with people in Romania- and the school gets frequent news. They support the work in other ways during the year.

wotz Fri 04-Jan-08 14:13:03

Well I am going to inform my school about it.

PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 14:16:34


it"s been a while since I did a box, clearly

I"m afraid it is that one.

Look, we will do the right thing by informing them of a problem somewhere along the way and we will ask for feedback on whether they were able to find out what went wrong. They sent out 1.24 million last year and I would bet that most of those went to the right people. Don"t stop doing it.

Got to work now but thank you for help in calming down, everyone. Will let you know what they say.

PrincessSnowLife Fri 04-Jan-08 14:18:12

they are notorious for it? so there have been other stories? blimey. tell me more because if they know about things going wrong in the past then these things should surely not still be happening...

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