So, so many generous friends this year – I won’t hold you in suspense.
We filled 921 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child this year! And it’s most definitely a “we.” You know who you are.
And let me apologize in advance for not having pictures of everyone who helped. We were just crazy busy.
There’s the count by age and gender, as verified by the independent auditing company of Hannah & Miriam, LTD.
Biggest change this year – thanks to Rachel moving out – I got my own Samaritan’s Purse room.
We went from this unholy mess piled in the game room….
….to this former bedroom featuring four rolling steel shelves, a work table and a leftover dresser. Woot! It’s essentially the storage room. While packing – if we run low on an item – we go look to see what else we can use. If you sent bags, cars, clothes, lip balm, toys, etc. – it was stored in here
We could actually move around in the game room (packing room.)
We started with toddlers this year because we had some fantastic (but oddly-shaped) sippy cups taking up a lot of room. They don’t stack. Plus we had a wealth of toddler clothes. So toddlers first.
Abby and Emily filled the toddler sippy cups with candy. At $7/box to ship, no container goes empty! It was delightful to watch the girls try to perfect balance the number of candy pieces, flavor of candy and even the color spectrum in each sippy cup. I would have been grabbing a handful of whatever and shoving it in.
The girls’ mom (Amy – background), grandma (Kathy – foreground) and friend Christine spent three hours on Saturday organizing toys and removing packaging – true thankless dirt work.
When she left, Christine mercifully took a Suburban-full of packaging trash with her. We literally run out of trash can room.
Labeling lids is not really exciting, but very necessary – thanks, Mitchell!
Julia and I spent about five hours each one weekend labeling lids and getting boxes ready to be filled. We had two main shoe box styles (both Sterlite 6-qt., but slightly different lids – go figure.) The pre-labeled (age, gender, taped down) boxes and lids had to be separated. I stored boys/girls age 5 -9 in her room, much to her delight. “Please, Mom, fill my room with more shoe boxes and lids.” I’m sure she said that. I’m sure she did.
Next load of toddler sippy cups, filled by the fabulous Kay and Keith. The cups were so, so cute.
Finally we started bagging candy. Sharon, Angie and Lorraine are now ziplock zealots.
Our youngest candy bagger – Lane, age 5 months, who brought his mom Jennifer along. I called dibs on rocking him. I just found his left-behind rattle; it’s a wonder we didn’t pack it.
The secret weapon on this year’s packing: My 19-year0old visiting niece Miriam, recently moved to Lockhart (about 75 minutes away.) Super organized, a hard worker and young legs! She even helped me clean up after all the packing was done.
More “imported” help – Chandler, grandson of Judy, visiting from Georgia. He ran boxes downstairs umpteen times.
Fill up, Phyllis!
550 Beanie Babies bagged and ready for boxes! Each toddler got one, plus many of the older kids.
for the first time in a long time – every toddler and middle child got a full-sized box of crayons, too. Lisa – Please thank “Uncle Charles” for that great HEB employee discount!
When toddlers were done, we switched to the older kids, ages 10 – 14. Special addition this year – “Days for Girls” kits. (The wonder that is) Amy organized a summer sewing class for girls at church with adults helping to make these 63 awesome gifts. Thanks to everyone who donated cotton cloth!
Playing cards, notebooks, sewing kits, lip balm – we had great stuff for older kids.
As we “switched out the room” between ages, of course the clothes changed – though the tub labeling remained the same.
Neighbor Jean (background) and friend Steve made a great dent in older kids’ boxes. Speaking of Jean….she volunteers at the Veteran’s Hospital. Any liquids given to us like shampoo or conditioner – I give them to her to take there, since Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes can’t contain liquids. And next year – no candy or toothpaste (boo.)
The “Word on Wednesday” class to which I’ve belonged for years came over to do “pizza and packing…”
….but the early part of the evening morphed into the only true break in the action all week as we waited for the air conditioning repairman to finish upstairs so we could get going. Yes, my family and friends in the north, air conditioning is a thing in South Texas in November. Lorraine, Sharon, Angie, Alison and Kristi were good (“glowing”) sports.
Miriam devised a new packing method. Instead of each person walking around the room and filling a single box, she lined up 6 or 8 at a time and each person grabbed the same number of fillers like soap’n’washrag, Matchbox car, etc.
Boxes packed with the big stuff upstairs came downstairs for fit’n’finish. The fit’n’finish table is hugely important. That’s the last quality check, plus the box is finished off with “littles” like a metal spoon, little balls, fingernail clippers, pencils, pens, erasers, pencil sharpeners, beads, candy, a toothbrush, etc. Shout out to Paula here, who works all year on bagging cloth (shirts, socks, wash cloths, etc.) that we get. Again – thankless dirt work. I am the president of her fan club, and that of her daughter….
….Kelley, who works all year creating re-formed crayon treats for the boxes. This year, Kelley discovered she was a most excellent rubber-band affixer. Two per box. Kelley!
Friends Jo and Steve drove in from Houston to do “whatever” which turns out to be a heckuva lot of packing, and a lot of lid labeling.
Teresa came by after work (AT&T) to fit’n’finish. I’m sure she was tired. She does her own boxes, too.
Pat has one of the most willing spirits I’ve ever known. If she can help, she will help.
Finished boxes waiting to be banded and stroked. Note the colorful lids on some of them. I want to find more of those next year.
Completely finished boxes (banded and stroked) ready to head out the door, which they needed to do, because we ran out of room to walk. Blessedly – each time the stacks got unruly, someone would come along and offer to take them to the collection center (Shearer Hills Baptist Church.) Talk about God’s timing.
Watch your step, Kristi! Carrying boxes down our front steps is no fun.
Christine took two loads to Shearer Hills, and unloaded one by herself. If I had a medal, I’d give it to her.
The Last Night – Thursday, November 3
We had sooooo much packing help. So much wonderful, enthusiastic, funny, generous packing help. We finished Thursday night instead of Saturday morning, as has been our custom.
Kiddos Chase, Travis, Abby, Emmy and Mabry made a great game of chucking last-minute-made candy bags into the tub.
The last three boxes coming down – thanks, Meredith and Amy!
Now let’s get those last boxes out to Robbin’s van and Kathy’s SUV. Young legs – I love young legs. I could have plopped down in the yard and fallen over asleep, but these kiddos were racing each other.
Five at a time – way to go, Jay!
Pile them high, Emmy!
The last boxes out the door…at this point, we still didn’t know how many we’d done. We had the stroke sheet, but nobody had counted the total. (clockwise from top left – Mabry, Travis, Sabrina, Abby, Elizabeth, Emmy and Chase. I rocked most of these kids in the nursery, and I can’t wait to see how they rock the world.)
And finally…….all the boxes at the Shearer Hills collection center, ready to go to the warehouse, then onto to Dallas and then to….where? We don’t know. God does. That’s what matters. Generous friends have been donating shipping money, which is much appreciated. Each box costs $7 to ship.
I confess Lois and I have each already bought a full shopping cart at Target (70% off Dollar Spot, plus my Red Card discount or her employee discount) for 2017 boxes. Lisa told me wash cloths are coming my way for 2017 boxes, too. That’s wonderful! How many boxes will we do in 2017? We never aim for a number. Never. We do as many as we’re supposed to do.
And this year, we were supposed to do 921.
If you sent stuff, if you sent shipping money, if you collected hotel soap, if you brought over leftover Halloween candy, if you packed, if you lugged boxes, if you hauled off trash – thank you!
You know who you are and you know what you did.
And it was crazy wonderful.