Last night I was a Christmas Elf. Remember my post about “Weihnachten im Schuhkarton“? Today was the day when Operation Christmas Child happened and I handed in my package. Also my sister and I volunteered to help get the packages ready for shipping. Let me give you an inside story of what I’ve learnt and a peek behind the scenes.
Already in October I set out to fill my shoebox and get little gifts. It was actually a lot of fun shopping for a kid as I never really do and there are some cute things to get. This was in my shoebox:
As I said volunteered by helping in the “Christmas Workshop”. In Germany there are two locations (Berlin & Birkenfeld/Pforzheim) where all packages will be checked, sealed and distributed to the countries. We had a 15 min training session with a video and then we were sent to our packing stations. All packing stations had team leader who we could ask all our questions. At the table there were 4 positions.
- checking box for label boy/girl, envelopes with money, writing was appropriate
- checking items if they comply with guide lines and custom requirements.
- sealing the package
- putting shoeboxes into transport packages, labelling, sealing and dropping off at warehouse
We quickly combined 1 & 2 as the workflow was better that way and the shoeboxes didn’t get too messed up.
My job was to check items in the boxes. I made a list of things I learnt and what is helpful for people checking the boxes:
- Most people pack for the middle age group 5-9 years. Then 2-4 and the teenagers 10-14 had the least packages.
- Make sure shelf-life is end of March following year. We had to remove all candy that didn’t apply. Sometimes leaving a package having no candy at all. We were able to fill that up with donated items. This is due to custom relations.
- If you pack candy, always insert full packages. Single candy bars, small gummy bear packages, bonbon, etc. we had to check every single item. Sometimes that was 30 little pieces which takes forever. All items without minimal shelf-life needed to be removed.
- It’s helpful if the letters are on the top not the bottom so the box doesn’t need to be unpacked entirely.
- Don’t wrap the present. We had to unwrap them if we couldn’t guess what was in there.
- No soap bubbles as it’s too dangerous – kids might drink it.
- Wrap shower gel/shamppo in a bag. We had to do that to a loooot of items. Also some already came in damaged.
Most of the boxes had really nice ideas and items in them. Every once in a while there was a box that was just so sad – only half filled, old/used/damaged stuff. There were boxes I dumped completely in the garbage. I wonder what people think. But most of them were really fun and gave me ideas for the next year:
- snow boots and slippers
- musical instruments (xylophone, harmonica, claves)
We were there for 4 hours and we were around 50 people working. At the end of the shift we managed to sent over 3,000 shoeboxes on its way. The goal this year is 100.000 boxes. If you live in Berlin (or Pforzheim) and feel like helping there are lots of open spots to sign up.
Maybe I find time to help again this year. Otherwise I will pack another box next year. Have you every participated? Or do you support another organisation? Would love to hear about it.
Disclaimer: This post contains links to the Operation Christmas Child. Due to current (German) law this needs to be labelled advertising. However I was not paid to talk about it, I just think it’s a nice little project to do. Furthermore I have linked a few of my older articles because I believe you might enjoy them. Some of the photos were taken by berlinmittekind.