Okay, so I guess the sorting of stuffed animals for our Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party isn't exactly rocket science but there is a sort of science to it. You know we've been praying for stuffed animals and God has been answering those prayers--1508 animals came into our home last week alone! And every one had to be checked and sorted and stored.
when my husband came home on Saturday afternoon after God blessed me with 376 animals at the morning yard sales and saw the living room filled with animals (again)...the normally longsuffering guy said, "This place is a mess!" I was immediately convicted of the need to clear out some living space for us, so I stepped up the sorting procedure and got the animals stashed into the spare bedrooms as quickly as possible. This is what our spare beds look like right now.
But there's a process to getting those animals into the garbage bags for storage. I pull each animal from the bag, inspect it and sniff it. If it looks and smells new, then it gets thrown into the appropriate pile--really girlie ones in the "Girls" pile and those suitable for either a boy or girl in the "Boy/either" pile.
Any animals that don't pass the 'sniff and search' test go into a pile to be washed. Later I'll scrub their spots with detergent and throw them into the washer. If they don't come out looking new they get passed on to a local mission thrift shop. Lots of people buy them for their dogs to play with so they won't be filling up a land fill.
Those aren't the only piles, though. Some look like they should be given to younger children, so they go into the "2-4 Girls" or "2-4 Boys" piles. And then there's a pile for the ones that aren't suitable for our packing party's specialized boxes and they're put in a pile to be saved for the Patriotic Pig Packing Party in October. Animals that are a little bit oversized go into another pile also.
Once the initial sorting is completed they are put into garbage bags--100 per bag. I like to use Force Flex garbage bags because they don't tear as easily. I saved most of the bags I used last year to use again this year. The 'boys/either' ones are marked with a blue Post-It note and the 'girls' ones with a pink Post-It. If a bag is in process and doesn't have 100 animals in it yet I keep a Post-It note on top of the animals with the number the bag contains. Each time I add more I update the number until I have 100 in it and can close it up.
I use orange Post-Its to mark the ones for 2-4 year olds and usually only put 50 of those in each bag because those animals are usually on the larger side. I also put one or two new fabric softener sheets in the middle of each bag as I put the animals in and that helps them to stay fresh smelling.
Now the bags are stored in my house until I can get them to our storage container. I fill the container with boxes of other items up to about three-fourths of the height of the container and then put the bags of animals on top of the base of boxes. I don't want to pile too many on top of each other so they don't get crushed.
Now the only thing left is to deal with the piles of animals that need to be washed. Stay tuned for the next post when we'll explore the science of animal cleaning.