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Pencils, Crayons, and Books, oh my!

We’ve been anxiously waiting for this day since March 2020. Covid lockdowns – either in Seattle or in Uganda have prevented us from delivering school supplies for three years. But all of that is behind us now. Our shipping container full of school supplies donated by children across the Puget Sound region is all packed up and will be leaving for Uganda very soon!

It was so fun to get back into the rhythm of packing the container and we are so grateful for the way our community stepped up to help.

Altogether, this year’s packing project took over 170 hours of work. It’s no easy feat!

Thankfully we had almost 30 people help with packing and sorting. We had Girl Scout groups, teachers and their families, board members, and more. Many people have been helping with this project for three decades, and it was great to be together with them again this year.

When items are picked up at each of our schools, we take them to our warehouse for sorting. We go through each item by hand to ensure they are appropriate to bring to Uganda. Some things – like toothpaste – the Ugandan government doesn’t allow us to import. Other items might show too much wear for us to feel comfortable shipping them. All of these items need to be removed to be donated elsewhere.

Next, we group everything together for packaging. All the pencils get collected in one box (or many boxes!), crayons in another, and pretty soon, our intrepid volunteers are surrounded by towering piles of books and boxes.

Finally, everything is carefully counted. In order to clear customs, we need an exact count of everything in our container. Everything has to be labeled clearly and easily findable. Customs officers could ask to see any box to double check our labeling and counts – a mistake here could cause major shipping delays.

Once it’s all boxed up and labeled, we move it from the warehouse to the shipping dock. The good folks at Freight Expediters very generously provided our container this year, as they have many times before, as well as space at their docks. Their employees even helped us transfer everything from the truck to the container. We’re so grateful for how their whole team supports our mission!

All told, this year’s container included nearly 30,000 pounds of donated items! Seattle students provided almost 100 boxes of pencils (that’s over 2,000 pounds of just pencils!), 350 boxes of books, and so much more! We’re so proud of the way each student stepped up to help their peers in Uganda.

The final step is a customs inspection. Thanks to great work from our volunteers, this year’s inspection went off without a hitch! With official approval, the container is scheduled to be loaded on a ship and sent on its way to Uganda.

Next stop: unloading the container and unlocking academic opportunities for Ugandan students!

Sister Schools relies on generous donors like you to unlock education opportunities for students in Uganda and expand horizons in Seattle. Your gift will help get the container to Uganda!


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