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Today, we’re going to talk about the crown jewel of Christian children’s entertainment.

No, not Veggie Tales. No, not Adventures in Odyssey

I’m talking about The Adventures of Donkey Ollie.

If you’ve been watching Say Goodnight Kevin for a while, you know about good ol’ Ollie. (Here’s Kevin’s review of the first episode, in case you haven’t seen it.)

The character models are unsettling. The soundtrack is dated. The stories are surprisingly dark and macabre for a children’s show. First-time watchers of the show usually have a couple of questions: namely, What is this? and Why does it exist? 

It is surprisingly difficult to find information about Boat Angel, the ministry behind this gem of a show. First of all, they have several different websites: boatangel.org, boatangel.com, carangel.com, and carangel.org. (No, those URLs don’t redirect to one main page: they’re four separate websites.) Secondly, they haven’t gotten much press coverage, unless you count this press release they commissioned or this random unboxing video:

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t find out anything. The ministry’s odd name, Boat Angel, has a pretty simple explanation. They accept donated boats, which they then auction off on eBay. Boat Angel then uses the profits to fund their ministry. From boatangel.org:

We accept boats and yachts from all across America. We are very selective about the causes that we serve. We also allow our donors to designate other causes and charities that benefit from their yacht, boat or jet ski donation. Your boat donation enables us to produce life-changing values-based children’s books & animations as well as uplifting media for teenagers. When you Donate a Boat, YOU REALLY MAKE a Difference in people’s lives!

It appears that they donate their books and videos to international and domestic ministries, mostly those that serve children. I reached out to a couple of ministries to confirm this claim, and they happily told me that Boat Angel had donated them books and money, and had even provided the funds for a children’s soccer field in Mozambique.

Boat Angel’s press pack (a cached document I found in a dusty corner of the web) paints a more complete picture of the media side of the ministry. It reads, in part:

Car Angel /Boat Angel was formed in 2000 and granted permanent non profit status in August of 2004. The company was formed with the express intent of using the media to impact lives in a positive direction. Adventures of Donkey Ollie is one of their flagship programs it is their intent to produce and distribute quality moral based materials and impact the lives of children aged 3-10. The Donkey Ollie series is pre-produced in Oregon by Aberle Films headed up by Doug Aberle, animator with Claymation Christmas and the California Raisins. The music and stories are written by Brian Stewart of Reignbow Media who past experiences included remix work for Backstreet Boys. The high quality animation is done by the world’s largest animation studio DQ Entertainment in Hyderbad, India who animate the weekly Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club in 3-D and the Emmy Award winning Tutenstein. Editing and sound Foley is a collaboration of A Town Media and Rockwell sound of Atascadero, California.

If you watched an episode of Donkey Ollie without having read the press pack, you might assume the show was a low-budget project made by an inexperienced but well-meaning team. But these credentials are surprisingly legit. Seriously, the folks who did Mickey Mouse Clubhouse animated this? (Unless the press pack is referring to a shoddily animated knockoff of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse called Mickey Mouse Club.)

It’s possible that Donkey Ollie was still a low-budget project, even with an experienced pre-production and production team. However, there is little to no information about the budget available online. Boat Angel is a member of the Apostolic Network of Global Awakening, which is an organization that qualifying ministries can join to gain tax exemption.

To apply for ANGA membership, your organization must be at least 15 months old. The only financial information I found for Boat Angel was this 990 form from 2005 (reporting numbers from 2004). Apparently, Boat Angel was founded in 2004, since it was the first year they had any recorded revenue. That means they probably joined ANGA and got “church” tax status in 2005, hence the lack of publicly available financial records after that year. 

Why was all this information so hard to find? Honestly, if Boat Angel donates their videos to ministries, and they’re not trying to sell anything, it makes sense that boat donation side of their operation would be the more public one. However, it does strike me as odd that it’s so hard to find information about Donkey Ollie or any other Boat Angel titles. You can’t even navigate to this listing of their films directly from the Boat Angel main page. If they’re sending free DVDs to random YouTubers, you’d think they want publicity. Are they just not very good at marketing, or do they want to fly under the radar? And if they do want to fly under the radar, then why? The answer, at this point, is unclear. However, it was refreshing to discover all the good work Boat Angel does for children around the world. I still have a lot of unanswered questions about their organization, and I still would categorize Donkey Ollie as nightmare fuel, but I’ve got to hand it to Boat Angel for caring about kids and showing them God’s love.

Laura Zeitner

Lead Writer

She’s best known for her unnamed, non-speaking background role in Bibleman: Lambasting the Legions of Laziness. No, she does not sign autographs.

Check out her latest posts!


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