Event Case Study #6: OCC UCC Packing Party

Event-Management

This is the second last case study (as at early February 2015) within the mini-series Event Production & Management, which consists of the following articles:

  1. General Introduction
  2. Christians 20/30 Great Gatsby Ball, held 26 July
  3. Operation Christmas Child Packing Party held 30 July
  4. Friend’s Wedding held 9 August
  5. Surprise Events (x3) planning
  6. Friend’s Wedding held 13 September
  7. Christians 20/30 Music Festival held 4 October
  8. Operation Christmas Child – UCC Packing Party held 14 November (this article)
  9. Friend’s Wedding held 15 November

This event builds upon much of the previous OCC Packing Party. The main team of organisers who helped to make the Christmas in July event a success were enlisted to help provide an advisory role to their United Cross Campus (UCC) counterparts. Over a planning session the set of responsibilities and action items were allocated to teams of volunteer organisers from the UCC student ministry.

The functional areas covered were:

  • Worship
  • Decorations
  • Food & catering
  • Program/MC
  • Market stall tables

Preparations: Date & Venue

Settling on a date for the event required a little bit of discussion given the calendar/program of events for the UCC Ministry was greatly influenced by the exam season. The exam factor also had to be taken into consideration for expected attendance levels. In the end, as the second last meeting of 2014, a highly respectable turn-out of 80+ people gave the event a great atmosphere.

The date was also an interesting choice given that same weekend I also was helping out with a friend’s wedding – also held in part at church. On the night of 14 November, I started the afternoon/evening with the wedding rehearsal in the church chapel, and immediately after joined the team in setting up in the cafe area for the packing party. Fortunately, the wedding venue requirements were limited to the foyer and chapel only, so the packing party had access to all other areas of the church.

Selecting an appropriate venue within the church building was a much easier exercise given the experience shared from Christmas in July. Taking into consideration the wedding event, we ended up expanding the physical footprint for the packing party and set up the market stall tables in Room 1. This freed up the cafe area for the tables and worship team area.

It was intended to follow the same video set-up as Christmas in July and play the Operation Christmas Child informational video on the cafe TV, but in the end, technical difficulties prevented us from doing so.

Program

The night began at 8pm after a long 30-minute period of general socialising with a time of worship. After singing 3-4 songs, the MCs began explaining the purpose of the evening and invited me up to speak on behalf of the OCC volunteer team in explaining the OCC driver behind the cause. It was around this same period that I had also helped the main volunteer coordinator in speaking before the church on a Sunday morning service, so I was quite comfortable in giving a public talk.

Leaving the logistics and operational aspects to others, my focus was more-so on the outcomes – children receive a shoebox all for themselves. Sharing some of the insights from the distribution experience, whereby some kids think they are only entitled to a single item within the box and then learning that no, the entire box is for their personal consumption. This in itself is part of the magic and whilst I can only visualise this in my mind, I look forward to one day directly participating in the distribution effort on location.

Each shoebox that would be packed would translate into an opportunity for a child to learn and hear about Jesus over an extended period of time, via their local church. A common message that we repeated was the desire to collaborate as and to pack boxes in groups, instead of individually. This approach was also conducive for the students since the cost of filling a box, including the necessary postage was a greater challenge for students operating on a lower, if existent, level of disposal income.

The market stall tables were positioned behind the kitchen in the large space of Room 1. The tables provided a greater surface area to display all our wares. Originally we had kept the money collected separate between boxes and wares sold since the 50 cents collected per box was payable to OCC. It was around the time of this event we merged the two into a single cash fund on the understanding that we would settle the OCC payable amount at the point of box drop-off.

One group within the team of organizers led the decoration effort, which saw the cafe dressed up in the familiar pageantry of Christmas, complete with a full-sized Christmas Tree.

The kitchen catering team also worked under the guidance of our designated volunteer who had single-handed lay managed our previous party’s catering. The agreement was to collect a gold coin donation to help cover the catering cost, in a similar fashion to how UCC operated each week.

Outcome

The overall attendance was estimated to be 60 ~ 70 people. We managed to pack about 70 boxes with the majority of items that made up our market stall being sold. As at February 2015, I can also update these OCC pages since the bulk of shoeboxes from Clayton Church have now been distributed as part of the final shipping container that was sent in mid December. Our record collections here have contributed towards the overall count of 321,526 shoeboxes distributed by the Australia/New Zealand operations of Operation Christmas Child as per their 2014 OCC Shoebox Report.

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