Friday, December 16, 2011

Samaritan's Purse~ Shoeboxes

Last Friday, Cameron and I went with our local homeschool group and volunteered at The Samaritan's Purse Packaging Center in Charlotte, NC for Operation Christmas Child.
Our day began at 5:30am, as we got up, dressed, packed a cooler of snacks, and left with our carpool at 7:00am.

We arrived at Samaritan's Purse around 8:45am.
First, we unloaded all of the shoeboxes that our church collected.
43 shoeboxes this year!
SO very proud of my church people!
Then we headed inside and met up with our group.
It was a BIG group this year!
If you're interested in volunteering, you can put together a group and go.
Click here for more volunteer information.
All volunteers must be at least 13-years-old.
And, you need 1 chaperon for every 4 teenagers.
First, we were trained how to handle the boxes, what items must be removed and added, and how to perform each job.
Then we were sorted into teams.
Each team was then assigned an area, and each team member was assigned a specific job.

I thought it was interesting to see the way each shoebox was processed, and thought you might like to see it, too.
At the first station, the volunteer must check the shoebox for money.
(Samaritan's Purse asks that you include $7 with your shoebox to help with the cost of shipping.)

Once that money is removed and put in the dropbox, the box moves to the next station.
At the next station, the volunteer goes through the contents of the shoebox and removes any items that are on the no-no list.

These items include: food, liquids, war-related items, used items, etc.
While at that station, the volunteer makes sure that the shoebox is full and that it has candy inside.

If it is not full or doesn't have candy, he gets additional items from the bins above to fill the shoebox.

That was one of the neatest things to me!
I loved it!
I loved that someone thought ahead about children who may not have a full box, or that may not have any candy.
I loved that there are people and stores that will donate items to help fill boxes.
At the next station, the shoebox is securely taped shut so that no items are lost during shipping.
The shoebox is then packed in shipping boxes according to gender and age.
This shoebox is being shipped to 10-14 year-old boys.
Though we were hard at work, there were still moments of fun!
Often times, it happened when we discovered precious surprises tucked inside the shoeboxes we were working with.

It made me think differently about our shoeboxes for future years.
For example, in all the years that we've packed shoeboxes with our boys, it never dawned on me to pack actual SHOES in the SHOEBOXES!

Yet, I have no doubt that the little girl that opens this box will be tickled!

And the person that donated the box made sure that no space was wasted.

There were socks and other goodies packed inside the shoes and all around the inside of the box.
We also saw lots of marbles.
What a great idea!
They're inexpensive, fun, and easy to squish in loose spaces in the shoeboxes.
Sometimes we'd pull a Slinky out of it's box to make more room for other fillers.
At the end of the day, there were lots of no-no's in the buckets below our sorting tables.

If you pack a shoebox, please don't put food, liquids, and other no-no's in the shoebox!

They DO get removed!
(These items are not thrown away!  They are all donated to local charities and shelters that can use the items.)

Items are removed for safety purposes.
For example, we had to pull out lots of mouthwash and lotions.
Those items could leak and ruin the contents of their entire shoebox... or worse, the leak could ruin the contents of a whole shipping box full of shoeboxes.
This bucket was mainly filled with food that had to be removed.
Samaritan's Purse is not against distributing food; however, they must abide by the rules and restrictions that the receiving countries levy.
At this point, the only 'food' items that are accepted in every country that they ship to are hard candies.
All in all, it was a wonderful day!
We left pooped, but with full, happy hearts!
I loved that as we walked out the door, this board was displayed.

It let us know that the fruits of our labor were being shipped to Georgia, Mali, and Zimbabwe.

Since I hadn't filled out the on-line form to follow our shoeboxes, this was the next best thing!

So nice to have an idea of where our packages were headed!

On the way through the parking lot Cameron said, "Mama, I can't wait to come back and do this again next year!"

And my heart smiled!

I felt exactly the same way!


ginny said...

LOVE that you are teaching the children to give to others that are less fortunate than they are. Also really love that you are blogging again!! Missed you!! Merry Christmas to you & yours. Miss you!! love ya, ginny

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