What It’s Like

Sometimes I’m asked what it’s like to pack boxes at Operation Christmas Child distribution center.  Would you like to be familiarized with the process?

Connect yourself with a fun group that’s been going for several years – a group that knows the ropes.  The group is pre-registered, since the person in charge has their act together and arranges things in advance.

Step One:

Before leaving home, you must pack.  You’re not going to a beauty contest.  It’s work.  In a warehouse.  So, pack your warmest work clothes.  Pray for the children as you pack.

Get in a large van or bus with this group and drive a long way to your nearest OCC distribution center.  (Bring candy and snacks to share.  Just saying.)

Step Two:

Arrive at OCC distribution center at your scheduled work time, energized and ready to work.  (A fun group pushes along that energized part – wink.)

First things first – gather your group into a corner for a quick picture.  😉

Group Picture, OCC Volunteers

The men with our group missed getting into the picture, since they were unloading 1600 hand-made bears into the back of the warehouse.  Sorry, men…

Here are a few of the bears, which are made by some of these women plus others.

Hand-made Bears

Next, you’re taken to a room for training.  The instructor explains the responsibilities of each person in the process of inspecting and packing the boxes.

After training, you are taken to the warehouse, where lines and lines of processing tables and stacks of boxes are set up and waiting for you to take your spot.

Inspection Lines

During a prayer break, we find a seat, if possible.

Here’s a processing table out in the warehouse.  The first person in processing checks for a donation envelope inside and removes it.

OCC Processing Table

The next person in line removes items that aren’t allowed for shipment, such as liquids, food items,or chocolate (although hard candy is allowed).  The inappropriate items removed are placed into the yellow bucket under that table and are sent to local charities and shelters.

Removed items are replaced with supplies in the center baskets in the table (like the bears).  Items are added to sparse boxes, too.   Inspection includes correctly marked labels:  boy or girl, age range.

The boxes are taped and then packed into large boxes by age group and sex.  Tracking labels are scanned by a hand scanner.  The goal for this location is to pack 80,000 boxes per day.  We packed boxes going to Chad, South Sudan, and a closed country that required special labeling and clear taping.

Every couple of hours, they call for everyone to stop working for a prayer break.  An OCC associate climbs onto the platform to tell a little about the ministry and some personal stories of shoebox recipients.

OCC Leader

This fellow received a box as a child, and he shared how the box impacted his life.

Shoe Box Recipient

At the close of the short break, we each hold a box (or two), and platform guy (or girl) leads us in prayer.  This part is very moving!  (Wipe your tears and get back to work!)

Step Three:

After your days of work shifts are complete, get back on the bus with your new friends and head home.  A little tired, maybe, but completely blessed.

Step Four:

Pray for the children – and their families.  Each box is a story of a changed life.  It is amazing how God works through a simple shoe box – not just one, but millions of them.

Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.  Matthew 19:14

It’s a spectacular Sunday, y’all.  Let us bless the Lord today with our praise!



  1. Robin says

    Thank you so much for this! (I cried, too. LOL)
    I always wanted to know HOW it all got done, once the box left my hands. I am eagerly awaiting that email telling me where ours went. And praying that my daughter will receive a letter from the recipient one day. 🙂

    • says

      OCC sure brings on the tears, doesn’t it, Robin? I do hope your daughter receives a letter. That would put a cherry on top of the blessing! 🙂