A visitor can receive an entire tour of the center without ever knowing these rooms exist. There are two of them. They are the Store Rooms. Upon first glance, you might think they are junk rooms, but after a little digging, it's really gold you've come across.
As you might know, our biggest project at the center right now is organizing the new library and store room. Most of my updates have been about the library because that was something we could do right off the bat. We were able to catalog all of the books the center owns to prepare them for the new check-out system. Over the past couple of weeks, a lot has happened at the center. The room for the new store was finally cleaned and prepared for us to begin moving everything in. While we were waiting on the finishing touches, we moved in all of the school supplies to the shelves in the side room. That only took a day and we hand counted everything, including over 3,000 pencils.
Last week we started organizing the upstairs store room, which looked like this:
We had a lot of work ahead of us, but we knew it had to be done. After some discussion on where to start, the work began. In this hot, congested room with no airflow, our plan was to separate all of the stuff into categories. There were basically 3 categories: clothing, shoes, and other. I thought the other pile would end up a lot bigger than it actually was, due to all of the stuff piled in this room. We used a large barrel-like container to collect all of the shoes. The large barrel wasn't big enough for all of the shoes. In fact, there was a whole other sack full of TOMS!
|This wasn't all of the TOMS shoes.|
Once we sorted out all the shoes, we cleared a space so we could have enough room to make neat, folded piles of all the clothing. We went through boxes, and boxes of used, and unused clothing. There were baby clothes, teenage girl clothes, very large man clothes, and a variety of practically everything you can think of.
|After every article of clothing was sorted and folded. Plus I put on this nice outfit.|
The process took 2 days, and we are currently in the middle of moving all of the sorted clothing into the new store room. That's where today began.
It's Monday, and we arrived at the center at 9:45am. Like every other day we arrive at the center. We were greeted by a few girls who neighbor the area and go to class in P1 at the center, and Dariya, the cook's 3 year old daughter, although I'm sure she must be turning 4 soon. They came running at us the second we walked through the gates. They gave us big hugs, and after we asked them how they were, they responded with "We are fine." That's some of the very little English they understand, although Dariya understands a lot of what we say to her.
After the welcoming greeting, we were excited to check out the library, as it recently received it's final paint job! It's blue, and it looks great. We then went into the new store room, where we found the floors clean and ready for us! The only thing we had to do before moving things in was wash the shelves that we were moving in to use.
Once the store room was ready, we had to make another plan: How to transfer the clothing without causing too much of a scene. Since the younger boys were not in class, we wanted to transfer the hats first because they were in a large white sack. It would be impossible for the boys to know that this sack contained over 200 hats. We took them into the new store room, and dumped them all over the floor. Then we sorted through them until the boys had class again.
|Having some fun with all the hats!|
|Almost done sorting them.|
It was time to move the clothes. This process was simple. Elena and I made a chain from the upstairs of the store room to the downstairs, where we would temporarily hold the clothing. Once our clean spot was filled, one person brought the piles from the old store room half way to the new store room, where the other person would be waiting to take it all the way to the new store room. This was to keep kids out of both buildings. We didn't have any help from the staff so we had to make sure everything was kept safe from sticky hands. As the piles began forming in the new store (which has clear glass windows all along both walls) the boys began watching. They saw all the hats, and all of the clothing. There was no more hiding the items of the store room. As we moved the clothing over, Agnes, the store keeper, took some soccer jerseys out of the downstairs store. She did this right before lunch, which was not the brightest idea because she then had to sit there with the jerseys and eat lunch so none of the boys would take them.
After lunch we moved all the jerseys to the new store. The upstairs also contained 4 or 5 practically full team sets of soccer jerseys, on top of the ones in the downstairs. As we began folding and sorting all the jerseys, the windows became full of faces. Boys were peering in with amazement at all the soccer jerseys we were dealing with. It was like we were watching us dig through a gold mine from the outside of an electric fence. I would estimate that we have about 175-200 soccer jerseys of all sizes at the center.
|All the clothing and jerseys excluding the ones we pulled out to give away.|
The exciting thing is that we are planning a give-away dance party on friday, where each boy will receive a glow stick (courtesy of Woonsocket High School), a pair of underwear (from Elena's Amazon Christmas drive), and a soccer jersey (hopefully). We will then hold a dance (with Willy as the DJ). It should be a really fun night, so hopefully all goes according to planned.
Things are finally on a fast track, and we are very excited that all of these donations that have been sitting around for a few years will finally be put to use. Stay tuned, as we are hoping to finish this whole project before we leave!