This morning I headed to the Chicago Bridgeport VFW Post 5079 to help sort donated items, pack the items and seal packages for the Chicago South Side “chapter” of the 9/12 Project. Lucie Weir is the organizer of this event and she got involved because her daughter wanted to help the Service Men and Women stationed overseas. I learned of the project through an article in the community paper and I called Lucie last week. She was very helpful and let me know about other opportunities to volunteer.
When I arrived this morning nearly all the donations had been sorted into major categories of personal hygiene, snacks & food stuff, stationary & reading materials, and clothing. There were six tables full of the items essentially one table for each group except the hygiene items that were plentiful, but most were already packed in plastic bags in case they broke open during transport.
I was started by putting together USPS flat rate boxes, and then visited each “station” to grab a sampling of each group of items and then placed the filled box in a pile. After a few minutes there were enough volunteers to have a handful of people at each station and the boxes were passed along almost like an assembly line.
Then I moved to assembling boxes and handing them to the people filling them. After all the boxes were assembled I moved to the front of the line and started placing a bag of hygiene goods and a container of wipes in each box, and then put them on a long line of tables that was the “conveyor belt”.
There were over three dozen volunteers involved in this process and we filled all the boxes we had in about half an hour. There were so many leftovers we started to assemble more boxes and filled those in a matter of minutes. We finished by placing a thank you letter in each box and sealing them shut with packing tape.
The packages are destined for Illinois Service Personnel stationed in the Middle East. For security reasons each box had to be addressed to a specific person. Lucie and a few other volunteers had gathered names of Service members and were addressing the boxes.
With so many volunteers we were done in less than an hour and a half and waited for the cooks to catch up with the hamburgers and hot dogs. I went to the bar and had a beer, and came home to grill with some friends.
This is number 23 and now only twenty seven to go!