Free The Girls has no designated office space. All of our staff work remotely from home on their own computers which makes for a lot of emails and phone calls with very little overhead costs. One of the downsides, though, is that staff seldom gets to be a part of the entire process of collecting and shipping bras. This summer, we had the opportunity and privilege to spend a week together in Chesterton, Indiana, home of our Bra Collection Center and attend a Bra Packing Party! Although Pam, Free The Girls Inventory Manager, regularly gives staff updates about packing parties, being there in person was a new experience for all of us!
Here are some of the thoughts our staff came away with after July’s Bra Packing Party:
Selah, Operations Manager – I was so excited to finally get a chance to see a Bra Packing Party! I started as a volunteer and, now as a staff member, I have had the opportunity to help so many learn about Free The Girls, especially through Bra Drives.
From the moment I walked into Duneland Community Church (our collection center), I was beyond impressed with the people involved! Our Inventory Manager, Pam, has created an efficient and fun process of getting our donors’ bras ready for shipment to our programs abroad. It was genuinely a thing to behold!
I was also happy to see so many kids and families all working together to do their part in lifting these women out of poverty and on a path to healing and economic empowerment. I felt truly blessed to be a part of this movement!
Melissa, National Director – Seeing how the bra collection process works–from receiving donations to sorting and packing for overseas shipment–was amazing. Free The Girls Inventory Manager Pam has an amazing group of dedicated volunteers who have worked with her to refine and perfect the process.
I would encourage anyone who finds themselves traveling through the Chesterton area to schedule some time to tour Free The Girls Collection Center or, if you time it right, volunteer to help out at an upcoming Packing Party.
Pam, Inventory Manager – Today I counted how many packing parties I have helped organize in the past 2 1/2 years and the answer is “26.” Twenty six times we have set up tables, opened boxes of donated bras, and sorted them into boxes suitable for overseas shipping. Our Free The Girls volunteers have gotten really good at it as our systems have become more efficient along the way.
I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite thing about this packing party, but here’s my top three!
- I’m amazed and humbled when I consider that each and every single one of those boxes of donated bras was sent to Free The Girls by someone who cares and took the time to help a sex trafficking survivor.
- I am utterly grateful and dependent on a small army of volunteers that make this thing happen. When we open the doors to the packing party we don’t really know who will show up to volunteer that day, but miraculously we always end up having enough help and enough food to feed them! Sometimes 3 generations of helpers show up and seeing families together on mission is a beautiful thing.
- This time I enjoyed the unique privilege of having my 3 Free The Girls co-workers participate in the packing party. That was pretty sweet for me to watch as they got to see firsthand what they’ve only heard described or seen in photos.
Courtney, Executive Director – I’ve seen the sheer number of bras that were shipped over to Uganda in 2013, and I’ve seen the tally of bras that Pam keeps to track the bras collected for our programs. But actually attending a packing party and seeing all those bras in one place – wow! It is a well-oiled machine! Thousands upon thousands of bras are sent through an assembly line including opening the boxes and dumping them into wheeled carts, having our kid helpers wheel those carts to the (many!) sorting stations, other volunteers transporting the boxes of sorted bras to the scale to ensure the right box weight, taping the boxes shut, wheeling boxes on dollies to the storage room, stacking boxes on pallets, and then wrapping each pallet of 20 boxes in cellophane. Considering each box holds about 200 bras – that’s a LOT of bras! And this happens every 6 weeks or so.
The packing party really helped solidify my appreciation and awe of all our supporters and volunteers. Volunteers help collect donated bras, hold fundraisers, and sort and pack bras for overseas shipping. Free The Girls would not exist without its volunteer base and for that, we are all so grateful to all of you.