Are you scared to walk into your resource room? Are your volunteers too scared to try and open the supply cabinets worried that they will be buried by an avalanche of pompoms, construction paper, old curriculum, cotton swabs, paint brushes, and googly eyes?
Most churches have some version of a resource room. They may not have a full room to give over to storing resources; they may just have a cupboard. Regardless of what it’s called, churches store their resources and supplies. Whether you have a resource room or a supply cabinet, you need to have a strategy for organizing and using the resources.
Resource rooms generally hold curriculum, curriculum resources, visuals, flannel graphs, and sometimes supplies (sometimes the resource room and supplies cabinet are two different areas).
Your method of organization will reflect the type of room or area that you have to store your resources and supplies.
Organize Your Stuff
Regardless, sort the material you have to organize into categories. The purpose here is to make things easy to find. So be logical about it. Put all the curricula together. Put the classroom supplies together and put the craft supplies together. Once you have your resource room items sorted, label the shelves or bins. Then provide sign-out sheets. If anyone borrows something (other than craft supplies), they should sign it out. That way you and the rest of the volunteers know where things are.
Once your resource room/supplies cabinet is organized, you need to communicate to your volunteers what is available for their use and how they can make use of it.
Provide each volunteer with an inventory list of everything that is in the resource room/supply cabinet. You could put an inventory list in the volunteer packet (if you have one; and I highly recommend that you do!).
Create a Map of the Resource Room
Then create a “map” of the resource room/supply cabinet. At one church I worked in our supply cabinets were made up of shelves along a back wall enclosed by 4 doors. To create a “map” of the contents I covered the inside of each door with paper. At the top of each piece of paper I added the door number (#1-4) and a label of the type of items found behind that door: #1 Base Material; #2 Craft Elements; #3 Craft Tools; #4 Office Supplies.
Base Material included construction paper, felt, fabric pieces, paper plates, cardboard, tin foil, coffee filters, etc.
Craft elements included pipe cleaners, pompoms, bead, ribbon, sea shells, rocks, stickers, pasta shapes, etc.
Crafts tools included scissors, toothpicks, cotton swabs, straws, paint, paint brushes, crayons, markers, pencil crayons, etc.
Office Supplies included hole punches, binders, rulers, tacks, pins, etc.
Then for each shelf there was an arrow pointing to the shelf beside a corresponding list on the paper of what could be found on that shelf.
On each door I also included a paper that said, “Read this first”. This paper contained two sections: guidelines for using the supplies cabinets and tips for using the supplies.
The guidelines were simple:
- These closets are for everyone.
- Please return items to their original location.
- Almost out of something? Let me know so I can replace it.
The tips for using the supply cabinets included listing what each door contained, and then providing a few labour-saving devices. There were three items in the cabinets that I highlighted with additional signs. The location of a craft binder was highlighted with a blue smiley face. The location of ready-to-go crafts was highlighted with an orange star. And the location of baskets for carrying supplies was highlighted with a pink smiley face.
Then, finally, I created an inventory list that corresponded with the layout of the supply cabinets.
Now, you don’t have to organize your supply cabinet/resource room exactly like I did, but I do highly recommend that you organize the material in a way that makes sense (base materials, craft elements, craft tools), clearly label that material, and then communicate with your volunteers the inventory, guidelines, and some tips for using the supplies.
Create a culture of getting people to put things back where they found it. This will keep the area tidy and make everyone’s job easier. Also, set aside a few minutes each week to tidy, restock, and track things down that are missing.