Red Cross parcel

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Hi all. This extract is from Going Dutch by Katie Fforde. A girl has a new job in an office which is rather disordered. This is the first day she goes to work.

"Jo had handed her a Red Cross parcel, having found a paper shop nearby that supplied these things; they had both agreed that while it probably wasn't entirely necessary, and there would be a gleaming new computer waiting for her, One Never Knew."

Please tell me what does Red Cross parcel mean? It doesn't mean a parcel of food or hygiene items, does it? Because in my opinion it related to the computer or something like that.

  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There may well be a description before this sentence that mentions that the office has not got various items, e.g. stapler, paper-clips, hole-punch, string, sticky-tape, etc. In this circumstance, 'a Red Cross parcel' would be a set of things that the girl would need so she could do her job properly.


    American English
    In countries that manage their prisoner of war camps according to the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross is permitted to deliver parcels of food or other necessities like toiletries from relatives or the government of the prisoners. In the U.S., the term has come to be applied to any package of small items that one sends or provides to help someone out in circumstances of physical or emotional need. A homesick college student in the U.S., or a soldier in Afghanistan, might get a "Red Cross parcel" of home-baked cookies (I guess those would be "biscuits" in BE) from relatives.

    We really can't tell the contents of the "Red Cross parcel," but since there is a reference to "a paper shop [AE: office-supply store?] nearby that supplied these things," Paul's guess is a good one. I'm not sure from the context whether it is merely the contents of the "Red Cross parcel" that were "supplied" by the paper shop, or whether paper shops wherever this takes place actually have packages made up containing a selection of various useful office supplies such as those mentioned by Paul, plus writing instruments, paper, etc. Whenever I started a new job in an office, there was either a person responsible for "outfitting" the desk of a new employee with these items, or I was directed to a supply closet where they were available; some might still be in or on the desk, left there by its former occupant. If such package was necessary, the office must have been disorganized indeed; if pre-made packages were available from a paper shop, then such disorganization must have been routine in offices in that city.
    < Previous | Next >