Two weeks ago I was wondering if I was finished with my 2017 shoeboxes and now I'm knee deep in preparing for 2018 boxes. Crazy!
So...back on November 18th I thought I might be done packing. On Sunday morning, November 19th, I woke and decided I needed to pack 9 more boxes to give me 28,888 as the grand total from the packing party boxes and the post-packing-party boxes. I scrounged up every available item--even dipped into the sample boxes I use when I speak about Operation Christmas Child. I started to clean up the leftover items and left for church feeling I'd done all I could.
But...then...I discovered someone had left donated items in the church office for me. And someone left nine more nice empty boxes. Surely that was a sign I wasn't done. So after church I tucked all those items into the boxes and put together another even dozen bringing the total to a nice round
Monday turned out to be a hectic day at our Central Drop-Off site but I could tell we were far from the goal of 54,321 we'd been praying for all year. When the three trucks were pulled on Tuesday the total came in at 50,388--just 86 more than our 2016 total. It was only by God's grace and all the extra last-minute donations that we were able to send even that many.
God knows and He has plans to bless all the children who are waiting to hear about His love.
Fast forward to this week. I thought it would be an easy week of resting up and getting ready to travel to volunteer at the processing center next week.
Instead, I was surprised by a steady stream of donations of stuffed animals. My husband said, "Why are they bringing them now?" Well, why not?
Over the first few days of the week I sorted, washed, and bagged more than 500 animals. But I wasn't prepared for last night's delivery of 1500 plus!
I lined all the bags up against the couch and waited for morning light this morning to start the sorting. I worked on them from 9:00 am until 5:30 pm (with a few Facebook breaks, of course.) I've written before about the cleaning process, but I thought you might like to hear about the sorting.
The donors who brought all these bags said they'd already washed the animals, and that was a huge help. Still, I had to inspect them. As I look over each animal, I check for any spots, tears, or flaws, and I always look carefully at the tags on them. You can have a nice clean animal but if the tag is faded or frayed like the one in the picture then of course it doesn't look new. So, I simply snip off the tag. The trick is to cut it as close to the fabric as possible without cutting the animal.
Then the animals are thrown into piles around the living room according to size and whether they are for a girl or boy/either. My sorting has gotten more specific over the past few years. There are piles for Beanie Baby-sized; medium or Webkin-sized; large ones that, in addition to basic items, will pretty much fill up a box for a 2-4 year old and medium-large ones that need only a few additional fillers.
Here's part of the pile of tags that have been cut off. I will also cut shirts or costumes off if they are faded or cut witch's hats off Halloween animals and also clip the ends of ribbons so they are fresh.
It's hard to find room in the living room for all the various piles--especially when you add in all the other piles--those that need to be washed, ones that need batteries, ones who need to have hair combed, ones that aren't suitable for special access boxes and are relegated to the Patriotic Praying Pig Pile. And then there are those that don't make the cut for shoeboxes. I take piles of them to our city mission's clothing pantry where I volunteer and they are scooped up by local folks.
Once all the animals are separated into piles it's time to bag them up. The Beanie-sized ones go 50 in a bag in smaller white trash bags while the medium Webkin-sized ones go 75 to a large black garbage bag. The really large ones go in big clear trash bags and are hauled to the attic so they don't get mixed in.
My latest quandary is what to do with the medium-large ones because I've run out of places to keep them separate. Might have to enlist another volunteer for that.
So...2,000 animals by the beginning of December is a pretty good start. I'm not sure yet what our goal will be for the 2018 packing party, but we probably only need another 26,500 or so.
We're catching up!