Last week I went to the Operation Christmas Child proccesing center with my grandparents and my cousin. My grandparents have been five times, the first by themselves, the second with my oldest sister, the third with my second oldest sister. The fourth time I still wasn’t old enough, but the fifth time I was finally old enough so I got to go.
I can’t use pictures, though I took almost three hundred, but I am going to attempt to explain it.
The room where we work is much like a convention hall. It is as big as one, the floor is concrete, and well, I don’t know what the walls look like. Crates of boxes stacked against the wall concealed what the wall really looks like.
The front holds several orientation rooms. The rooms are curtained off with green cloth, and when you are there for the first time that year you go into one so they can explain the jobs and what Operation Christmas Child is.
There is a break room with rows and rows of picnic style tables to sit at when you take a break.
Then we have the actual working floor. Rows of tables line the floor, and in between the rows there are these roller things.
They are much like conveyor belts, but don’t use electricity. Rows and rows of metal circles on axles attached to a table thing. Huge crates would be pushed down it, and the circles would spin, pushing the box down, or making it ten times easier to drag something.
The actual tables are just tables. But a bunch of things make it different. There is a slit going down to a locked box for money, shelfs to hold boxes, baskets of filler and tape rollers.
After each box is lifted from a crate of boxes it goes through several people’s hands. First a pre inspector makes sure it is labled correctly and removes any money, dropping it through the money slot. Then an inspector will check the box for things like food, liquids and used items that can’t go. If there isn’t a lot of things in the box the inspector will fill it fuller with items from the baskets in the middle of the table. Then a taper will close the box and wind Samaritan’s Purse packing tape around it. Finally it will be placed in a crate with other boxes to go to the kids.
I was an inspector most of the time. It was really fun to see what was in the boxes, and I love trying to get everything in. Filling was also kind of fun.
But sometimes it was challenging. There were some boxes that you were just like ‘How did they get this stuff in?!!’
Sometimes the boxes from a packing party all had the same thing. Like thirty boxes with crackers! I hated taking those out. Or twenty boxes with the excact same things. You think an Olaf head is creepy till you have seen fifteen. Then it’s really creepy.
Sometimes there were boxes with things you had to take out. And sometimes you were just like ‘Why!?!’ like when a bottle of shampoo spilled out all over over the box. We had to send it to the box hospital. Twice! (They didn’t clean it up good enough the first time)
Now you probably want to know what the box hospital is. It’s where you send the boxes that are broken or messed up, and they replace the boxes or clean them up.
A lot of times you wouldn’t know whether to leave it in or not. Like with jump ropes filled with liquid, porcelain dolls or ball mazes without balls. I always asked someone if I wasn’t 100% sure.
And we found some pretty weird things in those boxes.
Cell phone charger
Seven toothbrushes but no toothpaste
Plastic spoon and easter egg maracas
But the weirdest box has milk and truffles. That’s all. Two things. Both food, and they both had to be taken out, leaving an empty box. The box didn’t get refilled, it wasn’t marked so it just got thrown away.
We worked for three days, each day being eight hours. We stood up the entire time, and by the end my legs were tierd. I was exhausted and after being so near people for eight hours when we got to the hotel we were staying at I hid in the closet. It was the darkest, quietest place. (And it was a nice closet.)
But it was a great experience. I am SO glad I got to go. It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I got to help. I hope I can go again next year.