Posted by: monsonmadness | December 16, 2011

Christmas project part 1

Operation Christmas baskets is well and truly under way.  I’m sure that most of my readers know what I’m talking about…here is the scoop on how it’s going.

In November, I emailed my friends and family to invite them to help me with a special Christmas project. I showed them some photos of some of the people and homes here in American Samoa, and explained about the poverty and how little so many people have. I wanted to make a difference for some families who probably wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas with the same luxuries that many of us take for granted.

Many people like to participate in service projects at Christmas time, so this was my opportunity to do something meaningful. The hope was that families could get involved, and that there may be some sacrifice involved, for example, I have heard of some families who decided together to forego stocking stuffers this year, and instead send the money here to be used to buy things for people who don’t have very much. I know that some children did extra chores and worked hard to earn some money to send over for the project. I know of some people in the UK who really don’t have a lot, and yet they sacrificed to make a donation. One family agreed with their children that they would send money over instead of having a selection box this year. This was extremely touching to me, and illustrates the kindness and generosity of so many people that I care so much about. Thank you, thank you for your sacrifice.

Now, there were also many people who contacted me in an apologetic way, to explain that they could not contribute or that they were doing other service projects. This really wasn’t necessary. I invited all of my friends, and had no expectations from anyone. These were anonymous donations, and I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated. I feel grateful for friends and family who I know would give if they could. Many of them didn’t contribute to this cause because they were already contributing in significant ways to other charities or projects. You all inspire me, thank you for being such generous people.

I could not have done this project without the help of my Mum and my amazing friend Addie. They collected donations on two continents, and sent me the money so that I could buy everything. Apparently there were several people who made significant donations, and there were even donations from people that I don’t know…word just spread among friends and people wanted to do good. Thank you Mum and Addie, you did most of the work.

So, that’s how it all started. An email invitation or a facebook post. I didn’t really know how much money would be collected, so it was hard to prepare for what I would buy beforehand. I did an early collection date so that there would be plenty of time to buy things and assemble them. When the deadline hit, and I received the money from Mum and Addie, I was overwhelmed. Together my amazing friends and family had donated $2300 (1500 pounds) to give some poor families in Samoa a better Christmas this year. Wow!

Next I felt the pressure. I knew that many of you had made big sacrifices with your donations, and had trusted in me to use that money wisely. I took this responsibility extremely seriously and began planning. First, I made a list of the basics of what I wanted to buy, then went around to several stores to price check and make sure I would only buy things at the best price. I didn’t want to waste a single dollar of your precious donations. I wanted every single cent to be used to help some needy families.

After I had done my research, it came time to actually go and buy the goods. It was a LOT of hard work, but it was also a lot of FUN! Don’t know about you, but I’ve never filled 6 shopping carts in a store before and spent so much money in one go. Then I had to go home and unload because my car was full and I could barely see to drive. At the next store, I enlisted the help of 4 store workers to help me get what I need, I pointed to what I wanted, and they would bring it down to the front of the store. The checkout process was hilarious and I got more stares than you would believe. Again, the men helped me load another mini van full of supplies and I drove home. I went to 8 different stores in total to find what I needed. At this point I realized that we were still a few weeks away from Christmas, and I still had to find places to store this stuff. Our laundry/homework room has now been transformed into our Christmas project room. It is amazing. I am so excited about this.

So, you probably want to know what is going to be in these care packages right? My initial idea was to buy a big laundry basket and fill it with goodies. When the donations exceeded my expectations so much, I realized that it wouldn’t all fit inside so had to buy some huge bowls as well. until I get to the assembly stage next week, I’m still not sure it’s all going to fit, some of it may need to be delivered in boxes. Anyway, this is what each family will receive…

Laundry basket, bowl, sanitary supplies, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, toilet paper, kitchen rolls, dish detergent, kitchen towel, bath towel, dustpan and broom, shoes for men, women and children,  t-shirts for men, women and children, lava lava, boys pants, girls skirts, two baby outfits each, diapers, wipes, baby cereal, baby shampoo, baby blanket, band aids, antibiotic cream, first aid supplies, umbrella, dish soap, cleaning supplies, sponges, Koko Samoa, candy canes, coloring books, crayons, pencils, football, light sticks, bubbles, cars, dolls, alphabet blocks, green beans, corn, gravy, stuffing, milk, brownie mix, cake mix, frosting, cookies, oil, rice, juice, raisins, and oh yeah…a Santa hat!

I have pre-ordered turkeys, rolls, and satsumas which I will pick up on Christmas Eve before we do the deliveries, and I still have just a little money left which I will use to buy some Christmas candy to throw in for the kids. I am overwhelmed by your love and support. I am so excited to put these packages together with my kids next week and then make the deliveries. I will write another post about that when it’s done. I hope that those of you who donated are happy with the project and that you will receive many blessings in your family for your sacrifice.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40

Here are 6 of my shopping carts at one of the stores. I took Daniel with my while the other kids were at a birthday party. I really needed his help pushing them around!

The scanning and bagging process took a long time, and the check out clerks were exhausted when they were finished with my order, their arms were aching!

Here are some of the supplies stacked up in the laundry room.

Bought 270 things in one store, not bad!

I love how this receipt is longer than Daniel!


  1. I’m so excited for you! Best of luck with everything!

  2. Oh my goodness that is awesome Helen!

  3. Wow!! That is so awesome. What a blessing for these families.

  4. Helen you are such an inspiration. I’m sure the people receiving these baskets will be totally overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers. Everytime I read one of your blogs I smile. I wish you and your beautiful family a fantastic Christmas. Xxx

  5. Amazing! What an inspiring experience to see you and your family at work like this, and to hear of the generosity. It is also humbling to read over your list and understand the basic needs of those people. Thank you for doing such a great service.

  6. Biggest well done to you lady….you are an inspiration. xxx

  7. Helen, Thank you so much for sharing! What a difference you and your little family are making in the lives of so many people. God bless you for your efforts. Thanks for being such an example for all of us! When you set out to do something, you really do it whole heartedly.

    We appreciate and love your family so much. Thanks again for sharing. Your little ones will never forget these experiences. They will be imprinted on their hearts forever!

    Merry Christmas to you!
    The Stoddards

    • Thank you so much. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas as well.

  8. That is wonderful! So excited for those families to enjoy the “basics” that we sometimes take for granted. We love you and are grateful for you attitude of grattitude and giving!

  9. I am very touched by all of the amazing experiences you are being blessed with. The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways.

  10. So awesome! Thank you for doing a fantastic job! What a fun, yet huge task! Merry Christmas!

  11. That is awesome! That is a great activity to involve your kids in.

  12. Wow, those carts are crazy! I’ve had two carts before (once), but never six!! I can’t believe there were 7 more stores besides! Thanks for doing this and giving us here at home a chance to participate as well!

    By the way, I love the pic of Daniel with the receipt! =)

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