National Collection Week 2016

National Collection Week 2016 was one to remember! We volunteered over 80 hours at the local Collection Center during the week and helped get 18,965 shoeboxes from the donor’s hands to the trail bound for the Processing Center. Take a look at the photos below for a behind-the-scenes look at the Collection Center!

Welcome to the local Collection Center! Colorful red and green pennant banners line the walkway up to the doors. Thankfully, this location has a long ramp which makes it easy to pull wagons loaded down with shoeboxes in and out of the building!

Inside, there are hundreds of shoeboxes lining the walls of the Collection Center, waiting to be packed into cartons! Makeshift cardboard walls divide each group’s shoebox delivery so that accurate shoebox counts can be logged.

Look at the growing line of cars waiting to drop off shoeboxes! Each shoebox donor is warmly greeted, asked to fill out a log sheet and welcomed inside.

Some vehicles arrived stuffed to the roof with shoeboxes – wow! There’s no room for even one more shoebox! It takes many volunteers working together to help get these precious gifts inside, counted and logged.

Once the shoeboxes are unloaded from a car, they are stacked in groups of 5 and counted. Now, you would think that counting by fives would be easy, right? Think again! Even if all 8 volunteers in this photo counted the same group of shoeboxes, you can guarantee that we won’t all come up with the same number! It takes several attempts to get it right.

Each shoebox is checked to make sure it has a marked Boy/Girl label and rubberband. Then the boxes are stacked at the end of the table by size and type to make them easier to pack into the shipping cartons. Red and green shoeboxes are one group, plastic shoeboxes are another and lastly, the randomly-sized shoeboxes.

Then the shoeboxes are packed into OCC shipping cartons. 23 red and green shoeboxes fit perfectly into one carton. Only 18 plastic shoeboxes can fit in a carton and when it comes to the odd-sized normal shoeboxes…. good luck!

These shipping cartons are filled with shoeboxes and are ready to be loaded onto the semi trailer. Each carton is marked with a carton number and how many shoeboxes are inside. They usually hold anywhere from 16 to 23 shoeboxes and are very heavy!

Up to 32 volunteers signed up to help at the Collection Center each day. Volunteer shifts last from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm, 12:30 pm t0 3:00, 3:00 to 5:00 and 5:00 to 7:00 and have a variety of roles.

These wonderful volunteers are helping fill shoeboxes! Other volunteer positions include: welcoming shoebox donors, cartonizing shoeboxes, providing snacks for voluneers, prayer team and most importantly, the trailer-loading team!

In this area, shoeboxes are being created with items collected all year long. Our Shoebox Banner can be seen along the back wall!

Our strong trailer-loading team of guys worked hard to get the truck loaded with the cartons that were filled that day. It is a tiring role, especially when there is no ramp to for the trailer! It takes a team of amazing guys working together to get the job done. This trailer holds 350 cartons when full which means there could be up to 8,000 on that trailer!

Relay Centers all across the city collect shoeboxes and place them in cartons, just like we do. The Relays then bring their full cartons to the Collection Center where we count them and load them onto the semi trailers. This Relay Center arrived with a horse trailer full of shoeboxes!

Another Relay Center brought a U-Haul truck full of shoeboxes!

Here’s another shot of our epic trailer-loading guys! Consider the fact that each shoebox weighs an average of 3.2 pounds. This means that one full carton of shoeboxes weighs anywhere from 57 to 74 pounds! Imagine lifting, moving and stacking over 100 cartons each night during National Collection Week! Wow. What a dedicated group of guys, who are appreciated beyond belief!

On the last Monday of National Collection Week, all 3 of the semi trailers were full, but there were still over 55 full cartons leftover! They were stacked in the parking lot along with any leftover empty cartons and Gift In Kind item donations. Now we just wait until the trucking company brings the last trailer!

The Collection Center collected 18,965 shoeboxes in 8 days! Hooray!

One last look at the inside of the Collection Center. At night, it is aglow with colorful Christmas lights!