After months of uncertainty, hundreds of decisions, and many hours of preparation our first 2022 shoebox packing session is done. Not including setup, we planned to be in the building for five days--four days to pack the boxes and one day for cleanup.
By God's grace and because of so many excellent volunteers we finished packing all 11,200 boxes in 2.5 days. We worked another half day on Wednesday to start cleanup and finished on Thursday morning.
It was a good week--not without some hitches, of course, but a blessed week nonetheless. We were glad to have children and families join us again and loved watching them work so well together.
I'm not sure how many cartons/boxes we had in the truck at the end of Monday night because a sudden storm came up and blew rain into the back of the truck so we had to quickly close it and pile cartons in the gym until Tuesday morning.
We did have that first truck filled and ready to pull by noon on Tuesday, though, and packed another 3400 after that to make a total of 9000 boxes by Tuesday night. The other 2,200 were filled on Wednesday by around 1:00 and the second truck was ready for its journey.
I want to praise God for so much answered prayer! We're grateful the high temperatures of Saturday and Monday (when we melted in the gym with no air conditioning) cooled off for Tuesday and Wednesday to make for much more pleasant packing. We could not have asked for a better and more flexible crew of volunteers to get this job done.
Last year the stress of managing volunteers left me frankly burned out and I was reluctant to face another set of packing parties this year. But God answered that need too when Ellen stepped up to take point on orienting and placing volunteers who always seemed to drift in one by one right after she'd given an orientation at the beginning of a shift.
Having a larger facility was a true blessing. We had all our cartons, boxes, and supplies in the same area all at the same time. Granted, there was still a bit of chaos but people stepped up to break down all that cardboard when it was needed and pitched in to sweep up all those little pieces of red cardboard 'confetti' left from folding boxes and stock the tables at the end of every evening.
Three of us worked this morning to finish cleaning and storing and were amazed when First Alliance offered to allow us to leave the things we need to use again in September right there in the gym. Praise God!
Tonight I'm making calculations for September. I was a bit shocked to realize we still need another 165 reams of paper folded into packets of 15 sheets of paper each. I need to see if our paper folder Steve can complete that many in four weeks or we'll be farming that job out also.
Still, despite the conflicts and challenges, there are 11,200 boxes on their way to Charlotte for the next leg of the journey. One down and only one more to go.