Serving at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Boone, NC
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Serving at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Boone, NC

November 25, 2016

Thanks to some family friends, we had pleasure of serving at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Boone, NC yesterday. We have packed boxes in the past, but it was neat to peek behind the scenes at a processing center and see what happens to all those boxes at their last stop before leaving the US.

The Processing Centers (PC for short) operate two shifts during their peak season, which this year runs from November 22 - December 17. We decided to volunteer for the first shift, so we started at 9 am and finished at 5 pm. After checking in, getting our name tags and watching a two short introductory and training videos, we were led to the tables we would be working at and introduced to our Team Leader.

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The steps to process a shoebox for shipping

Each processing station has a basic, five-step process.

  1. Boxes of packed shoe boxes come down a conveyor system to the first person in line. This person takes a packed box out, opens it, removes any donations and then passes it to the inspectors.
  2. The inspectors look through each box to make sure no prohibited items are included in the box and they add extra items to the box if it isn't full. They pass the box in to the taper.
  3. The taper closes the box and then wraps Samaritan's Purse branded tape all the way around the box to make sure it doesn't come open during transit.
  4. After being taped shut, the shoe box gets passed on to be put in bigger boxes alongside other packed boxes. The big boxes are marked by age and sex (girl or boy and ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14).
  5. Once a big box is full, it is put on another conveyor that takes it to the shipping area where the box top is taped shut and it is loaded onto trucks or shipping containers to begin it's journey overseas.

You can see more in my pictures below:

Our experience

We had a really good time at Samaritan's Purse. I'm pretty sure we'll go back and volunteer again sometime. We may even make it a yearly family tradition during the Christmas season. We were all tired after working an 8 hour shift, so I don't know if we'll work that long of a shift again, though.

One word of advice, however; we all came away with sore shoulders and necks from having been bent over the tables for so long. The only break we took during the day was a lunch break from about 1 to 2. When got there, we were told to take a break every hour or two and our Team Leader kept encouraging us to do so, but we didn't listen. By the end of the day, we wish we had...I'm sure it would have helped.

Operation Christmas Child books from Amazon

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Follow a Box through Boone's Processing Center

How to Get Involved

  1. Follow this link to get more information about serving, find out where the processing centers are located and sign up to help if there's one nearby.
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