Last week Ella, our Head of Operations, used one of her volunteering days at Eleven to help out Operation Christmas Child. She told us all about what she got up to on the day.
Last week I was able to use one of my Volunteering Days to help at Operation Christmas Child, a project run by Samaritans Purse since 1990. The charity helps children all over the world receive a gift lovingly packed by individuals, families and communities all over the world.
I spent the day at the UK base for Operation Christmas Child and arrived at a large warehouse stacked high with shoeboxes and donations. It was quite the operation, and a brilliantly well-run day.
In the morning, six of us were assigned to a table and were given tasks. The first pair inspected the outside of shoeboxes, ensuring they were durable enough and were a suitable size. In the boxes, as well as gifts, people also gave donations to help with the shipping fees. These donations were also collected at the first stage and then the box was passed to the next group. As Head of Operations at Eleven, I love a process to follow and a good system. I found the whole day efficient but also really enjoyable and inspiring, not to mention hard work! I certainly felt my day was put to good use.
A few others and I were then responsible for going through the pre-checked boxes and removing items that were inappropriate or restricted. This included any liquid or food products. The boxes we were preparing were being sent to Liberia and needed all soap removing too. It was great to hear how the charity worked with the countries the boxes were being sent to to understand local needs and restrictions. Some boxes needed a little filling out after removing unsuitable items, so we were able to pull in from other donated items to ensure each box was filled with a lovely assortment of age-appropriate toys, ranging from useful items like gloves and toothbrushes through to school supplies and of course lots of teddies, dolls and toy cars. We enjoyed showing each other the selection of wonderful gifts inside each shoebox - my personal favourites were a kite and a kaleidoscope.
In the afternoon we carried on checking boxes and also helped unload vans packed full to the brim with even more donated boxes. I couldn’t believe how many continued to arrive throughout the day and realised just how many pairs of hands were needed to ensure each box made it to their final home!
Throughout the day, the charity volunteers shared personal experiences they had through Operation Christmas Child. Some had been involved with handing out the gifts to children and the stories they shared of how delighted children were to receive simple but lovingly prepared presents was a great boost! It made the experience of packing boxes really inspiring, knowing that soon a child would be opening the box you’d checked.
It was clear to see that real care and attention has been put into each box donated and what amazing work the charity were doing to send these to children all over the world. It was a pleasure to spend one of Eleven’s Volunteering days at Operation Christmas Child.
To find out about how you can get involved with Operation Christmas Child's mission this Christmas, visit their website by clicking here.