The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Voluntourism, part 1

Voluntourism means volunteering as part of your touristy vacation.  My folks have been voluntourists for 6 years now, spending about a month every autumn in the Appalachian town of Boone, NC for the purpose of sightseeing and relaxing, but mostly to work at the processing center for Operation Christmas Child.

OCC is a part of the relief organization Samaritan's Purse.  Headed by Franklin Graham, Samaritan's Purse gathers tools, tarps, building supplies, etc. and sends them out to areas of the nation and world that are hit by natural disasters and war.  From the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the flooding in Colorado, the tornados in Illinois, to the Jersey Shore mess from Superstorm Sandy and more, Samaritan's Purse stands ready to help.

OCC is the part of the ministry that delivers shoebox gifts to needy children around the world.  It is something that anyone can do- find a shoebox and pack it with some hygiene products, school supplies, toys, and candy and then take it to a local donation center and that's it!  You have just participated in an international cause that has delivered over 100 million boxes to kids that really need some hope and good news.

Since kiddo turned 13 this year, she was eligible to work at the processing center.  We took time off work and school and flew to Boone to help.  We got trained for a variety of jobs the first day, and then we were sent to the floor to inspect those boxes and make sure they were full enough for each child, and contained the right products so they would pass customs and be safe in any sort of environment (gifts need to be able to withstand temperature extremes).

Here's some pictures of the center and us at work.  We mostly did inspecting- taking out inappropriate items like liquids, and sometimes adding items if the box seemed too empty.

The processing center.  This was Wednesday and it snowed most of the day.
This group was from Mexico.  They had handed out boxes before, but had never worked at a processing center.
We are getting checked in.
Our training- mostly by video.

The whole family
My dad tapes the boxes after they have been inspected
My mom checks each box for the $7.00 donation for shipping costs.  Then she hands it off to Abby who inspects for liquids and foods and other inappropriate items.  Everything that is removed is donated to local shelters and charities. There weren't many workers this day, but on the weekends the center is packed with volunteers.
Daily announcements and prayer by the chaplain.
The display board- we are using this pic on our Christmas card.
Keeping track of how many boxes have been processed.
The Boone center expected to do 750, 000 this season.
Most of the boxes from here were headed to Burkina Faso in Africa.

This truck was loaded and ready to go to the airport.  (This was the day after the snow.)

In the next few posts, I'll show you more about the area around Boone and some of the "tourism" things we did when we weren't volunteering.

Here at home, it might snow again tonight which could mean no school tomorrow.  I hope so.  I still have about 49 moving boxes left to unpack...

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