Finally backpack stuffings have arrived! I have spent the past weeks, maybe even month, sorting, analyzing, and imagining every possible aspect of backpack stuffing events. As I mentioned before Backpack Distributions are a big part of the services we provide for the families living in Homeport communities. In the three or four weeks I have not only been scrutinizing every step of the process, but actually creating and forming many of the processes myself. One essential step in the process is stuffing the backpacks so they are ready to be distributed to children. Since no current employees have been involved in the backpack stuffings or distribution events in past years my boss and I have been completely in the dark about what to expect. We have been calculating and guessing along the way to plan out each backpack process, most specifically the backpack stuffings.
This past week our first backpack stuffing event arrived, after tireless preparation and calculation. I had planned every aspect of the night: where everything should be setup, how backpacks should be passed through an assembly line, how many volunteers we would have at each station, etc. I had no idea what to expect, so my solution to preparing for unknown outcomes was to plan as thoroughly as possible. The preparation paid off in some ways, but, as with any great volunteer event, the night was full of surprises. We were expecting 10-12 volunteers to show up from the Chase Adelante volunteer group; two hours before the event we found out there were 30 people coming. I had created backpack checklists for each backpack, but when it came time to print them off, my computer would not allow me to sign-in (apparently summer fellows aren’t expected to want access to their computers after hours…) The evening went on like this. I had planned how backpacks would be stuffed and how the evening would run, but of course nothing went exactly according to plan. Luckily We had an amazing group of Chase employees and their families who were flexible and adapted to the evening’s task to ultimately stuff almost 250 backpacks, helping to put us well on our way to reaching our goal of stuffing 1,500 backpacks. As the checklist station was having trouble keeping up with the pace of the assembly line, everyone pulled together to join the checklist people and get every backpack checked and ready to be distributed. It was amazing to see everyone adapt to get the job done and it was so fun to see the event that I planned so thoroughly come together in surprising ways. I can’t wait to take what we learned from last week’s event into the upcoming backpack stuffing events!