Operation Christmas Child Q & A
I recently received an email from a lady named Rebekah who had a lot of GREAT OCC questions. I decided to pose them to Diane Rice, the Northwest area coordinator, to help me provide correct information.
What is the difference between a Relay Center, Processing Center and a Collection Center?
Relay Centers are what they call all of the churches and businesses who collect shoebox donations. Once Collection Week begins, someone from each Relay Center brings all of the shoeboxes they have collected in to the Collection Center for packing into cartons.
Collection Centers spring up for shoebox Collection Week only. They are often churches or businesses with space to spare, that they lend to Operation Christmas Child and it’s volunteers to enable them to collect and carton up all the shoeboxes. Once Collection Week is done, the Collection Center is too.
Processing Centers are massive, permanent warehouses. After the cartons of shoeboxes leave the Collection Centers, they are trucked to Processing Centers around the country. Shoeboxes move through the warehouse on conveyor belts.
What happens at a Processing Center?
Inspection of full shoeboxes: Every box is inspected at the Processing Center for inappropriate items like chocolate, war toys, liquids, shampoo, food items, breakables etc.
If a box arrives at the Processing Center broken and needs to be repacked, do they keep the items together or do they divide them into other shoeboxes?
The integrity of the box is a value Samaritan’s Purse highly endorses. That means that the box is kept fully intact as much as possible as those items have been specially chosen for the recipient as well as prayed over by the individual family. Gift box contents will never be divided. In fact the only time they will be retouched is if by chance they have been damaged in the journey. If so, the box ends up in the “Box Hospital” and is repacked as closely as possible to it’s original state.
Most shoeboxes are at least 50% bigger than the Go Boxes, and shoes for a man or teenage boy may be twice the size of the Go Boxes, if the box is too big, do they repack it in smaller boxes and divide up the stuff?
Again, no. Many of the shoeboxes they receive are MUCH larger than the little red and green Go Boxes. It is like playing Tetris in 3-D, fitting the shoeboxes into the cartons at the Collection Centers, and they go through a similar process repacking them after inspection at the Processing Centers.
They will not divide your shoebox contents up into other boxes. Sometimes though, the opposite problem occurs, and a box may come in that just really doesn’t have very many things in it. If it is a “light” box, or has a lot of empty space available, they will add filler items called Gifts in Kind.
Gifts in Kind
Filler items are available to top off shoeboxes at the Processing Center, and sometimes at the Collection Centers as well. Corporate donors provide large quantities of items. Individual donations are accepted at Relay Centers and Collection Centers, such as leftover items from Packing Parties.
From there they are sent in cartons to the Processing Centers as Gift In Kind. They are sorted and distributed out to the assembly lines to be used as filler items. The inappropriate items that are removed are channeled to local charities. Nothing is wasted!
I would love to volunteer at the Processing Center near me. How can I do that?
Every year Volunteer Applications are accepted in early Fall for working at the PC’s. Watch the Samaritan’s Purse website for specific deadlines and directions. Shift times vary and are part of the application process.
Read more about Operation Christmas Child here:
Collection Week starts this Monday the 13th! Do you have your shoebox ready?