Operation Christmas Child – Surge Packing Party

This event was held very shortly after the Christians 20/30 Gatsby Charity Ball which was on Saturday 26 July whereas the Packing Party was on Wednesday 30 July. The planning and lead time for the Packing Party was not as extensive, given it was a smaller scale event. This article forms the third in the series Event Production & Management.

Operation Christmas Child (OCC) helps local churches participate in their cause by creating occasions known as “packing parties”. The concept is simply for a group to host a party where the guests come prepared with items they have brought along to pack into a shoebox. As per the guidelines published on their website, each shoebox needs to be packed with one item from each of the following six categories:

  1. Something to love
  2. Something hygienic
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to play with
  5. Something for school
  6. Something special

The way a group chooses to fill a shoebox is flexible – individuals can bring a specific item or just come together and fill multiple boxes together. Groups could also pool together on the $9 cost of postage per box.

Specific “customizations” that were applied to this event was to promote the event as Christmas In July. In hosting the event at church it became a Surge/young adults corporate night, where each of the cell groups formed teams to pack shoe boxes. The initial flyer that was created was revised to adapt and incorporate the shoebox label as well as the guidelines, making it a co-branded marketing collateral for the event.

To help ensure a shoebox could be filled in its entirety, we organised a market stall whereby we made available all items in bundles of $1 or $2. In the week leading up to the event, a few of us organisers procured a large collection of items from various sources – the local $2 Discount Shop and also via one church friend who worked at the Reject Shop. The pricing was simplified and normalized so as to make the management and money collection as simple as possible; we passed on the savings directly to individuals.

Promoted primarily via Facebook and the cell groups themselves, the event turnout ranged 50-60 people. My contribution spanned across the creation and printing of the revised flyer, suggested simplification of market item pricing, support for decorations – specifically bringing my fibre-optic Christmas tree – and also with the worship leading and visual projection aspects of the night.

ProPresenter and my MacBook were the key enabling technologies behind the visual projection solution for the event. In keeping with the theme of Christmas in July, and also to cater for a non-threatening song to sing (for visitors) we sang the Christmas carol Joy to the World. To round out the worship segment and explain what we believe we then sang This I Believe, which lyrics helped to explicitly show our guests what we believe in.

The main organiser who had spearheaded the event and also performs the volunteer role of Church Area Coordinator for OCC spoke for a few minutes to explain the evening and also had a short video, which was developed by OCC, broadcast. The event then embarked upon the main activity whereby the cell groups spread out and began to fill shoeboxes.

To help make things even easier for my own cell group we tapped into our cell group offering box and used $100 as a form of tab, which we could draw upon the cost of boxes and items from the market stalls. We agreed on nine boxes as a group so that $81 covered postage and $19 would be spent on items. To this individuals also brought along their own personal items of contribution and some also spent more money on additional items. In the end, as a group we filled 15 boxes.

One good church friend from outside of Surge had on her own championed the cause in her workplace and she came to drop off 17 boxes on the night. In total the event saw us pack 100 boxes, which we then had packed and stored at church for delivery to the OCC headquarters at a future point. This was a great achievement which meant on average each person contributed two boxes.

Supper was an amazing experience in itself. Early on one of the organising committee members volunteered to single-handedly prepare supper for the event. The outcome was an impressive set of food, both savory and sweet, as well as a punch concoction.

The setup for the night was in the church cafe and it presented us the first opportunity to utilize the newly installed AppleTV. This ensured that the cafe TV could display ProPresenter wirelessly. The audio connectivity was handled separately via the wired in-ceiling speaker and amplifier system. A single microphone was made available for use via the audio amplifier system.

Like the earlier event, a large part of my contribution to the overall event was via my use of ProPresenter. In this way, I have helped to demonstrate the different environments and physical set-ups that ProPresenter can be operated in.