(1) Book sorting – There are pallets, boxes or bags of donated books that are designated “To be sorted.” Boxes or bags of books can be placed on carts and rolled to the sorting area. The sorting area consists of labelled tubs on both sides of the aisle, in alphabetical order by subject matter. Volunteers sort the books by placing them in the appropriate tub based on subject matter. When the level of books in a bin begins to reach the top of the bin, those books are ready to be boxed.
(2) Box making – Good Steward uses a standard size box for all of its shipments overseas and those boxes will be available. By pressing the outer edges the box should open up into a 4-sided box. A flap from each side is folded inward on one end of the box, and those are secured with two pieces of packing tape, placed on top of each other over the edge where the two long flaps come together.
(3) Box filling and labeling – There is no single way to pack a box because of the variation in book sizes, but generally most of the books should be laid down flat in the box, and it makes sense to start with larger books on the bottom. Fill the box as full as you can up to the top level of the box so that the top flaps can still fold over completely. Fill in the sides and any empty spaces as much as possible. If there are empty spaces in a box it is more likely to collapse in the shipping process, which can make a whole pallet unstable. Once a box is full, close the top by dovetailing the four top flaps – do not tape the top of the box. Then use a felt-tip marker to label the box by writing the name of the subject matter (same as the tub you are loading from), in large legible letters, in the upper right-hand corner of the two short ends of the box.
Exception: Books in the clear bins are not being shipped to Africa, and do not go in our standard-sized boxes. They should be packed in sturdy boxes that formerly held donated books.
(4) Pallet building – Once a box has been filled and labelled, use a rolling cart to transport it to the pallet that is currently being filled. Arrange the boxes on the pallet so that there are 8 boxes on each level, with two rows of three on each end and a row of 2 boxes placed sideways in the middle. Each pallet will have either three or four levels of 8 boxes each. Once the pallet is full it is ready to be wrapped in plastic shrink-wrapping material.
Exception: Boxes assembled from clear bins are not placed in the pallets being assembled that day for shipping, but are placed in labelled spaces in the racks on Aisle 16.
(5) Box recycling – The boxes that we unload donated books from will be recycled. We break down the boxes until they are flat, and stack them, usually on top of a cart or dolly. At the end of a sorting session we transport that stack of flattened boxes to the recycling area in the northeast corner of the warehouse.
Exception: standard fruit boxes in good condition are donated to the Food Bank, and some boxes in good condition (6-8 most Saturdays) are retained to store and ship books that are not being shipped to Africa.
Volunteers must wear shirts with sleeves, long pants and closed in shoes (front and back). Jeans, t-shirts and comfortable shoes are common. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dusty and a little dirty.
Metal boxes are available for securely storing things like jackets, purses, wallets, cell phones, etc.
Please don’t eat, drink, or use cell phones in the warehouse.
Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid doing anything unsafe, including lifting anything too heavy. Watch out for forklifts moving pallets and give them plenty of room on all sides. Be aware of any conditions that may result in load instability.
Watch out for one another, especially younger volunteers.
Thank you so much for your contribution of time and effort to this noble endeavor.