Friday, December 20, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

 On December 18th I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with a group from my church to the Operation Christmas Child Facility in Charlotte, NC.  If you are not familiar with OCC (linked here) it is a wonderful ministry that delivers shoeboxes full of goodies to children all around the world, who wouldn't have gotten anything for Christmas otherwise.

At the facility- or processing plant actually, we have the pleasure of, you guessed it, processing the shoeboxes!  We go through a short training of how to operate and then we are assigned to a group leader who is a volunteer at the facility.  In the picture below you can see some of the stations set up and ready for workers.  There are large boxes filled with the smaller shoeboxes that are ready to be processed.
 To process a shoebox, first someone takes the rubberband off and then searches for any money that may be placed within.  It costs around $7.00 to ship one box and people are asked to place this money in an envelope and place it inside the box.  The next person looks through the box for any items that can't be shipped.  Liquids, army toys, guns, chocolate or other inappropriate items are removed and if needed additional items are placed inside from a stock of items in the center of the station.  The next person makes sure there is a label on the box with the appropriate age and sex of the child clearly visible, then they tape the box with packing tape.  Then they either hand the box to a person who packs it back into a larger box and it is ready to be shipped.  Or first it may need to be scanned so that the person who donated the box can track it and know exactly to which country it was sent. 

Our group signed up for a 10am-2pm time slot, but due to the fact that it was the last day and they needed additional people, we stayed an extra hour.  You may be thinking that 4 or 5 hours is just too long to stand up and continuously work.  And there are break areas available and some food and drinks for sale if needed.  But honestly the time passes so quickly, you hardly notice how long it has been.

The minimum age that a person can volunteer at the facility is 13, however there is no upper age. 
 In this picture, you can see that people can also sit and pack small bags of hard candy for the boxes. 

If you've never been to the Processing center, I highly recommend you sign up.  There are facilities in Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, California, and North Carolina.  And even if you can't volunteer at one of the packing facilities, definitely pack a shoebox!

And you can check out the Operation Christmas Child link here for ways to serve all year!

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