Wow! We are amazed. Again.
The truth is we shouldn't be. From the moment we started Butterfly Boxes three years ago, our community has come through every single time we've asked. You've helped us give hundreds of welcome bags to refugees as they've flown into PDX. You've shown up to share meals and stories at our community potlucks (and given us dishes to help keep them sustainable). You gave bike helmets and locks when we worked with partners to give a hundred bikes to refugee children. You've given coats and blankets. You've DONE SO MUCH! So we shouldn't have been surprised. But we were.
We asked you to help us fill 300 bags for asylees. This is the story of what happened over the next six weeks.
You filled our storage unit and both of our homes. With bags and boxes full of backpacks, towel sets, toiletries (soap is so fragrant!), water bottles, stuffed animals, books, socks and so much more.
We held two volunteer days to get organized and take stock of what we still needed so we could keep you updated about what was still needed to reach our goal. A few of you worked with friends, neighbors, and colleagues to gather large donations to drop off. One of you even made this your bat mitzvah project - thanks and mazel tov!
Then the deadline came. The moment of truth. Did we have enough? Inventory numbers indicated we were awfully close. We had your donations in three different places. Amazon was still delivering boxes. We were one day away from the massive bag packing. We crossed our fingers and trusted our counts.
We've held a lot of volunteer days, and we've packed a lot of bags. But we've never packed more than 80 bags in one day and never had more than 20 volunteers to help. This required some serious organization. We needed a plan, signs, and labels.
Did we mention that this bag packing was the service project for the 2019 Migrant Youth Forum? In Salem, OR? That meant getting all your donations loaded onto a truck and down the interstate to be ready for students to pack the bags. Huge thanks to Migrant Education staff and Willamette ESD for making that happen!
More than 20 students joined in on the service project, starting with unloading that massive truck. Then we needed to get each box and bag to the right station. We'd set up five: one for opening all those last minute Amazon packages, one for making toiletry kits, one for rolling towel sets, and two for packing bags.
These students were incredible! They worked together to do every task we set before them. Their efforts made it possible to pack more bags than we've ever packed in a single volunteer event before. They packed more than double the bags. More than triple the bags.
THEY PACKED 323 BAGS!
42 infant/toddler bags.
133 child bags.
90 teen bags.
And 58 adult bags.
You all didn't just meet the goal we set - you exceeded it. Our community continues to come through for our newest neighbors each and every time we ask. You give us hope and remind us that we still live in a world with people who care about our most vulnerable.
You know what else? We packed these bags the day before the third anniversary of Butterfly Boxes' founding. We can't imagine a better birthday gift. Thank you to everyone who donated your time and treasure. You did it. You exceeded the goal we set, the bags have been delivered to 4 rural communities around the state, and we are so grateful.
❤️ Adrienne & Alysson