Bramley Buttons –

The Farm Animal Sanctuary needs to raise funds to buy the site they have been based at for the last 30 years – details of how you can help below.  The focus on the Link to Hope calendar for August is Stationery, and I’ll let you know of any other bargains I’ve come across to help you fill your shoebox without over-spending or to help you add more items to your shoebox, or even do an extra shoebox.  

The Farm Animal Sanctuary

The Farm Animal Sanctuary have launched an appeal to raise £944,000 so that they can buy Manor Orchard Farm where they have been based for the last 30 years.  It’s a massive amount of money to raise, especially when they have had to cancel their normal fund-raising open day for the last 2 years and their Christmas Carol Concert last year.  If you can, please donate via the link below to help them raise the funds. The link also explains why they need to remain on their current site, and the work they do helping to save some farm animals from particularly desperate conditions.

They are open for visits at weekends during September, but you must book in advance – the cost is £5.00 per person but is free for children under 14. The sanctuary is near Evesham, Worcestershire, and is the home of over 600 rescued farm animals. Please support them and share the link to their fundraising appeal.

Link to Hope

As it mentions on the Family and Elderly Shoebox calendar  the focus for August is stationery.  A gift to go in every shoebox – their suggestions are pencils, crayons, rulers, pads, calculators, notelets. 

I put biros, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners and some form of notepad in all my shoeboxes both family and elderly boxes.  Possibly unusually I also put pencil crayons in the elderly boxes and try to include a few pages from patterned colouring books – the type designed for adults.  I don’t normally put a whole book in as they can be pricey, but I’ve bought a few small A6 size pads before and put 3 or 4 pages in an elderly box, along with a pack of 12 small pencil crayons from Poundland which work out at 25p a pack.  (You get 4 packs for £1.00 – by far the best value I’ve found for several years!)  At 25p a pack I usually put a pack in the family boxes as well as a small pack of felt pens.  That way if there are several children in the family there are more options if they all want to do some colouring at the same time.  The best value drawing pads I’ve found are A5 pads from Wilko for 50p each – the paper seems reasonable quality.  Hobby craft sometimes have plain paper exercise books in packs of 10 on offer but at the moment they are full price at £7.50 for 10 or £3.00 for 3. 

Poundland do a pack of 4 reporters pads for £1.00 but in my local store they have a sign saying get them while you can – so I presume they are going to do like most other stores and only do 3 pads for £1.00 once the current stock has sold out.   Poundland still seem the best value for biros – 32 of one colour or mixed colours for £1.00, and pencils with rubbers on top 30 for £1.00.  If you are doing one or two boxes then Wilko do pack of 10 mixed biros for 50p (4 black, 4 blue and 2 red.)  They also have packs of 12 long coloured pencils for 50p, and a clear pencil case for 50p.

Tesco have some school stationery of offer, a small 15cm ruler and double pencil sharpener are 20p each, and a clear plastic pencil case is 50p.  They also had large erasers for 40p or 2 erasers for 75p if you have a club card.

Poundstretcher/Bargain Buys still have some solar calculators for 75p.  If you live near Bristol or south Wales, then What! stores have packs of 10 felt pens for 39p.  Wilko have a set of 15 felt pens for 75p.

Other shoebox bargains

Superdrug had some small compact mirrors reduced to 10p!!!

If you have a What! store nearby they have 4 pairs of cotton work gloves for 90p, great to put in the family or elderly shoeboxes, folding hairbrushes with mirror for 79p and reading glasses for £1.00

One below have packs of 8 toothbrushes for £1.00 and they still have the packs of 10 small cars for £1.00 – great to add a few to each family shoebox as they can be squeezed into small gaps.  If you are putting all 10 in one family box it is best to remove them from the packaging, so they take up less room and so the recipient doesn’t have lots of packaging to dispose of.

My two local Bargain Buys both have 20% of everything, as they are clearing stock for refurbishment.  One note of caution is that several items are now more than 20% more expensive than a couple of months ago.  The Lego pencil sharpeners I’ve previously purchased at 6 for 69p are now in new packaging and are £1.29.  The manicure sets I’ve been buying for 79p are now priced at £1.29 – but if you can find any on the shelf that still have the 79p price on the packaging they are honouring that price and they still seem to be taking 20% off that price.  There isn’t the same range of stock, but it does mean reading glasses are 80p instead of £1.00, solar calculators, detangle hairbrushes, and packs of 2 pairs of children’s scissors are 55p instead of 69p. 

Aldi have reduced their reading glasses to £1.00 and bonus is that they come with a case.

Primark have already started stocking some winter stock and have 2 pairs of knitted one size gloves for £1.00.  They have the same packs in the ladies and men’s departments.  It’s worth looking around as some gloves seem slightly larger than others.  Gloves are one of the essential items and don’t take up much room 😊.


Asda have skipping ropes reduced to 66p each in the outdoor/seasonal area of the store, they also have a pack of 4 skipping ropes for £1.50 in their party range.  I found 4 small TY toys which were new with their tags for 50p each and they won’t take up much room in the family shoeboxes

Poundland have some small furry toys for £1.00, 4  x mini connect four games for £1.00 – they are very small though.  I’ve included a 50p coin in the photo so you can judge the size.  Packs of 10 mini Skittles bags are £1.00 as is a 5 pack of Polos.  If you knit then they have 3 x 50g balls of wool for £2.00.  One Below have 100g balls of wool for £1.00

In addition to the shoeboxes Link to Hope also send knee blankets to Eastern Europe, and knitted toys.  The toys can’t go in the actual shoeboxes due to EU restrictions, but are used as packing in the outer boxes to fill any gaps where different size shoeboxes are used, and are then handed out along with the shoeboxes and knee blankets.  Several people around the country knitted or crocheted squares for me which I’ve been stitching together into knee blankets, thank you to everyone who has sent squares.  A special thank you to Roni’s mom who has been knitting squares throughout lockdown and in addition to the squares she’s previously knitted for me has now also knitted and stitched together 10 knee blankets. 

In previous years I’ve been able to get cheap beanie hats off eBay but haven’t been able to find any bargains recently, so I’ve started knitting hats.  Most of the ones I’ve knitted so far are knitted on straight needles and then sewn up and they seem to be relatively easy to knit.  There are quite a few patterns on Pinterest, but I’ll include the pattern I’ve been using as I have adapted it slightly.  I would recommend trying an adult hat first to see how large it comes out.  My first attempt came out as a child size hat!  I then used larger needles and ironically thinner wool and it came out adult size, but I decided it needed to be longer than the pattern suggested.  The great thing with doing family boxes is that the hats are likely to suit someone in the family, but I do want to make some more adult ones for the elderly boxes.

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