Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Volunteering -- boring? Never!

So, I suppose I'm not sure what people think volunteering here will be like, or even what expo set up is really like, so I wanted to share what we did on this past Friday as far as having a volunteer come over and get stuff done.

So, Aleks -- everyone say "hi Aleks!"

Aleks on Saturday with Sizzle, one of our resident corn snakes
 -- showed up around 10 am.  That's when we started packing.  I'd intended to start more the night before, but I'd only gotten as far as printing out the master list of the items we needed.  Which... that's sometimes how it goes, especially when there's a lot of emails to answer and phone calls, and whatnot.

So, the master list looks something like this:

Some stuff on there we don't take to ever expo, like there's some items that we only take if we're staying in a hotel.  But most of the stuff is things we need at the expo regardless, so usually I cross off what I know we don't need (whether that's because we're staying in a hotel, or because some expos provide things that others don't, etc, etc), and start packing the rest.  So, the toys all need to be tagged, so we usually do that at home.  For things like loofah, apple & oat cookies, and the baggies of herbs, those get price tags at the expos (as the stickers don't stick all that well), so I just make sure we have adequate amounts of each of those.  For this expo, since the past All Animal Expo at Wheaton cleared us out of rosehips, rosebuds, and hibiscus petals, I had Aleks work on getting those baggies ready while I grabbed some of the toys, loofah, and so on, and packed the box.

Then of course we grabbed the hammocks and the other supplies and got all those boxes, plus our trays, signs, banners, and everything else, upstairs.  

For my blazer, first thing that gets loaded are the two tables, then the cages (one on top of another), then the chairs in between those.  The boxes all get tetris'd in after that, sort of wherever they fit.  We do have a system, but I can't easily describe it here, just know that when packing, there is a definite order to what goes in next, to ensure that everything does fit. 

I remember telling Aleks that undoubtedly we'd have forgotten something, and halfway there, I realized, we did not have our small Christmas tree with the chin-ornaments.  No big deal, because we were coming home that night and would grab it that night.

So, we get to the expo, find out that we are the booth pretty close to being right across from the entrance, and begin bringing everything in.  I think both of us had to each make 2-3 trips, but we got it all in.  First thing to set up are the tables, because... the banner has to go up, and the only way for short-little-me to reach getting those hooks hooked is standing on one of the tables.  Safety first, eh?  Lol.  And I can barely reach it on the tables.  Anyway, so first thing is get the tables set up, get on the table and get the banner up, and then table cloths go on, cage pads go down, cages go down, animals go in their cages.  Hand sanitizer, donation box, business card holder w/ business cards, all also get set up.  Chinchillas at a Glance sheets go down.  That's all for the table on the right (usually).  Usually that can be done while the other table is being set up by someone else... for that table, the herbs are getting arranged on the trays, along with toys, loofah, goodie bags, and so on.  We also have our box of hammocks and some shelves and such.  Then, once everything is officially set up, we have little signs that say what bags are what, and their prices.  These go in front of the bags on the trays.  So then, lastly, we look at what's priced and what's not.  From experience... even though the tag says "natural loofah $1.75," if the bag of loofah doesn't have a "$1.75" tag on it, I will be asked, often over and over, how much the loofah is... so I leave the signs and price the individual items.  So, we look at those and price.  For this weekend, as I had help, I had Aleks count how many of which items needed prices, I wrote out the tags, and she stuck them to the baggies.  Same for the shelves, loofah, and so on.  So then, that was about it for the booth, so we took a pic and got ready to come back in the morning.

Our booth when we left on Friday evening

Our booth, after they told us we could have more room, Saturday

So then, we're almost ready to head back and I realize I need to get gas.  So, as we go to a gas station, I thought I saw a Dollar Tree sign, and told Aleks that we'd stop if it was, in fact, a Dollar Tree.  It wasn't, and when I looked up where one was, the closest was 15 minutes away, so not worth it.  The reason I had mentioned it, though, was because I needed items to make a raffle basket for the expo (rescues donate one) and much of what I had at the rescue was summer-related.  For example, I had barbecue / grilling stuff to make a picnic / grilling basket... but... it's like 30 degrees outside... so not quite appropriate.  So, we're on the way home, and we DO pass a Dollar General.. so we stop and go shopping.  Pick up some items for the rescue basket, plus of course a few oddball things, and then go to Hallmark to see if they have a specific ornament I was wanting to see (they didn't), and then head home.  Hey, I told you rescue help isn't boring right?  Who'd think you get to go to a fabulous dollar store and then even Hallmark when you're volunteering?  Awesome times, right?  Right??

Anyway, we come home, and I still need to feed and water the critters, so Aleks helps me with that and some other tasks, before I end up driving her home at around 9 pm.  Sometime before she left, another Alex that was supposed to volunteer with me earlier in the week (but had things come up), sent me a message asking if I could use help that night.  Of course!  So she came over, and she stayed at my house and continued to fill up the water for the critters while I drove Aleks home.  I got home, and we switched over to working on putting grommets and hanging hardware (comprised of split rings and snap hooks) in hammocks that we were going to take to the expo tomorrow.  I also made the donation basket.

Alex left at about 2 am, and I went to sleep sometime like 3-4... only to get up before 8, so we could leave about at 8, for the expo in the morning.  Fun times.

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