OK, I admit it. Sometimes I get antsy sitting behind a desk and working on a computer all day.
So, when I found out the World Help staff would be volunteering one afternoon at our warehouse where we prepare to ship donated food, medicine, and other lifesaving supplies , I was glad to have a chance to stretch my legs.
I wasn’t expecting the work to be particularly exciting, though. I had watched videos of the warehouse staff loading shipping containers chock-full of boxes and medical equipment. But to be honest, it seemed a tad boring to me. It was just a shipping container full of boxes … nothing glamorous.
But my perspective on shipping was about to radically shift.
Although it’s behind the scenes, what happens in that warehouse is one of the largest and most effective ways that World Help delivers help to the people who need it most.
Here’s how it works:
1. Government grants and corporate donors provide emergency food, medical equipment and lifesaving supplies.
2. These items arrive in the warehouse where staff determines where in the world they will make the greatest impact, sorts them, and packs them in shipping containers.
3. Generous donors help cover the shipping costs so these critical items can be sent to the people who need them most. Every $1 donated ships $33 worth of supplies!
I don’t think anyone explains the purpose of this behind-the-scenes work better than Josh Brewer, our director of humanitarian aid.
“World Help’s gifts-in-kind program delivers real aid to real people in their greatest time of need,” Josh explained. “Our program not only meets people where they are, but it sets the stage for spiritual transformation as we meet their physical needs.”
And before I walked into the warehouse that afternoon, I had no grasp of how much aid can be sent when people cover the shipping costs.
The warehouse was lined with hundreds of crutches and walkers and dozens of hospital exam tables. And in the area where we were volunteering, there were thousands — and I mean thousands — of shoes and T-shirts to sort.
A good kind of tired
When we arrived at the warehouse, we divided into two teams. One team helped unbox and count T-shirts. Each box held 120 T-shirts, and there were roughly 275 boxes. By the end of the day, the team had lifted, carried, opened, counted, re-boxed, and shrink-wrapped nearly 30,000 T-shirts!
And though every person was sweating by the end, they were all smiling and having a ball.
Allyn Lyttle, World Help’s vice president of advancement, was on “Team T-shirts” and said he loved seeing the camaraderie and hard work of the staff.
“Our staff is a driven band of world changers, and they were no different when it came to processing these huge donations,” he said. “Their work ethic was in overdrive, and it was a sight to behold. It’s incredibly encouraging to see the entire team — across various departments — work together to accomplish an enormous goal … a goal which will ultimately impact many people in developing nations.”
Dirty work, but life changing
On the other side of the warehouse, my team — “Team Shoes”— was sorting through huge boxes of sandals.
These boxes were so big that it was hard to reach down into the bottom without falling in. But, working as a team, we were able to sift through, pair each sandal with its mate, sort by size, and strap together more than 2,000 shoes.
It was so meaningful knowing each pair of shoes we touched was going to someone in need.
Jane McHaney, another member of “Team Shoes,” is director of World Help’s donor advocate team. Her job is building relationships with our donors, but she also gets to travel and witness firsthand how shipments of goods change lives.
“I loved working in the warehouse with everyone,” Jane commented. “It was very inspiring to work together as a team and to see how the process works. It made me extremely grateful for the opportunity that World Help has to make a difference in people’s lives in this way. Something as simple as sorting shoes was making a difference, knowing that one day they would reach someone in various parts of the world who desperately needs a new pair of shoes. Love in action!”
It was definitely a bonding experience for us all. I mean, how many people get to stand alongside their company’s president, elbows-deep in a box of rubber sandals, and then later compare who was covered with the most dust and dirt?
It’s not a glamorous job
At the end of our afternoon of volunteering, Josh announced that we had worked a combined 80 hours’ worth of labor, and we had processed and packaged 32,000 units of aid.
“Every day, World Help is sending humanitarian aid around the world. It is such a big part of what we do,” Noel Brewer Yeatts, World Help’s president, told us. “So, it was essential for our team to connect with that work in a hands-on way. We were literally able to touch and put our hands on items that will bring help and hope to so many. I can’t think of a better use of our time.”
Noel also expressed gratitude for those who had generously donated those products.
But it also reminded me that there was still one thing standing in the way of those items reaching people who are suffering — the shipping costs.
And that’s where YOU come in. No matter how many pieces of vital medical equipment are donated or how many t-shirts and shoes we sort, none of these life-changing items are going to reach their destination without your help.
It takes as little as $30 to ship $990 worth of clothes, food, and other aid around the world. Think of how many people you can impact!
What I learned
After my day at the warehouse, I no longer see a shipment of supplies as just a bunch of boxes.
Now, I see equipment that will help hospitals save lives in countries like Guatemala and Nigeria. I see food being given to starving people in places like Zimbabwe and Uganda. I see hygiene items and blankets being supplied to refugees in the Middle East and Greece. I see clothes and clean water restoring hope for natural disaster victims in nations like Cuba and Haiti.
When I look at those containers, I see the faces of people who are desperately waiting for someone to ship these supplies.
To learn how you or your group can help ship essential aid around the world, click the button below. Or click here if you live in the Lynchburg, Virginia, area and want to volunteer and get a peek behind the scenes of your own.