Meet the Heart to Heart International warehouse crew: Rick Bradshaw, Phil Van Goethen (VG), Glenn Russell, Dawn Hamilton, and Dan Dieter. Though the crew works behind the scenes, their efforts are critical to the mission of Heart to Heart International. These five employees, with the help of dedicated volunteers, sort, pack, catalog, organize, and ship medicines, medical supplies and hygiene kits, which are then distributed across the world to help people in need.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, much of the working world moved to their home offices. But, you can’t sort pallets of boxes in your living room, and you can’t take delivery of a shipment in your driveway, so instead of packing up their office supplies and heading home, the crew kept coming into the warehouse and packing up critical medicines and medical supplies. They came in every day to a mostly empty building and performed their regular workload and more.
In fact, in 2020, the warehouse crew processed more than double the number of shipments from the previous year. A majority of the extra shipments contained critical personal protective equipment that was distributed to clinics, hospitals and schools throughout the United States. In order to process all of it, the crew learned to sort and organize this wide variety of PPE. What is the difference between a surgical, a KN95 or an N95 mask, or an isolation gown versus a patient gown? We may all know the difference now, but back in March and April of 2020, our crew was not only learning the difference between all varieties of PPE, but they were sorting them by the tens of thousands.
Volunteers stopped coming for a month or so at the beginning of the pandemic, but then came back to help the crew sort through boxes and boxes of donated supplies. They organized it, entered it into inventory and then got it back out the door into the hands of people in need. The crew credits the space afforded by our move to a new warehouse in 2019 for the ability to sort the massive amount of products coming in on a daily basis. “We could never have done the volume of sorting that we did if we had still been working out of our old warehouse,” Rick Bradshaw said.
One perk Dawn described of those early days was the chance the crew had to “experience a more up-close relationship with some of the beneficiaries of our aid.” In the beginning, everyone was desperate for PPE, and clinics, hospitals, and organizations would come to our warehouse to pick up a box of masks or some hand sanitizer. Our crew had the chance to see how desperately needed the aid was, and that gave them a new perspective on their work. Usually, the crew sorts and packs aid and then places it on a truck to be sent away and delivered to people in need. To be able to actually see the people that all their work was helping, gave them a boost during a scary time.
The warehouse crew expressed gratitude toward leadership for its direction on how to keep safe during very uncertain times. And, despite the large number of drivers and other people in and out of the warehouse, they credit those safety procedures for keeping them healthy, as not a single person contracted COVID-19. They are all tremendously thankful for that. And while they became very close during the pandemic since it was mostly just the five of them all day, they are also happy to see people starting to come back into the office and are eager to walk around to simply see everyone.
All of us at Heart to Heart International are grateful for the incredible work the warehouse crew does on a daily basis, but especially during last year’s uncertainty and overwhelming need. We cannot put into words how much we appreciate everything you do. You all stepped up during a very difficult year and delivered more critical aid to people in need than we ever had before. Thank you.