Fine Sort Leader Training



Project C.U.R.E.’s Fine Sort Team Leader is a vital position in the growth of this tremendous international medical relief organization. Specifically, this Team Leader is charged with the management and leadership development of groups and sorting teams, and the operations of a sorting center during the Leaders time period. Additionally, time will be spent identifying, recruiting, and training, and developing new volunteers. This position is local in scope and involves disciplined coordination with and coaching of volunteers in the local C.U.R.E. Community.

Project C.U.R.E. depends on the involvement of excellent people, and that is never more evident when we consider our leaders. Your work will create an impact in countries all over the world. That is why we want to take the opportunity to thank you for wanting to be a leader at Project C.U.R.E. 

This training specifically covers how to be a Fine Sort leader and oversee volunteers in the task of sorting supplies into the correct product code and packing them for shipment. Our primary focus is to make sure that you are prepared to undertake the responsibilities assigned to you. 

When you've finished taking this short course, you will:



Objectives for Sort Leader Training

After today's training, you will be knowledgable about the following topics:

  • Fine sort procedures/process
  • The responsibilities of a Fine Sort Leader 
  • Teaching the process to your group
  • Set-up & Clean-up

Need to Know

This Webinar is meant to be supplemental

Be sure to read through the Fine Sort Team Leader Manual. All appendices mentioned in this Webinar refer to this manual. It also contains other important information that is necessary for you to be the most effective and efficient Fine Sort Leader.

What it takes to become a Fine Sort Leader

Pre-Requisites to becoming a Fine Sort Leader

There are requirements that must be met to become a Fine Sort Leader. It is important that as a leader, you have logged 15 hours of hands-on fine sorting so that you have plenty of experience of what you'll be teaching your volunteers.

Here is a list of prerequisites that must be completed before you take on the role of managing and leading the fine sort process:

  • Attend the General Group Leader Training
  • Project C.U.R.E vision, mission, and principles
  • Safety Procedures
  • Group check-in and check-out
  • Orientation process
  • Responsibilities of group leaders
  • Log 15 hours participating in Fine Sort first-hand

Responsibilities of a Fine Sort Leader

There are 3 main responsibilities of a fine sort leader:

  • Manage and lead volunteer groups and teams
  • Ensure that fine sort processes and procedures are adhered to and that the safety of volunteers is a priority
  • As a fine sort leader you are the face of Project C.U.R.E. and must represent our brand professionally, appropriately and accurately

Which is NOT a requirement for becoming a Fine Sort Team Leader?

  • Spending at least 15 hours of hands-on fine sorting
  • Attending the General group leader training
  • Logging at least 30 hours as a sorting volunteer
  • Reviewing group leader responsibilities and safety procedures

One of the main responsibilities of a Fine Sort Leader is to manage the volunteers during their assigned time period and to ensure that sorting is carried out in a safe and accurate manner

  • True
  • False

Fine Sort Leader Orientation

All volunteers should go through a brief fine sort orientation. During this orientation, the Leader should: 

  • Welcome the volunteers
  • Thank the volunteers for coming
  • Introduce yourself and fellow leaders

After the orientation, give a brief tour of the sorting room so that the volunteers can better understand the scope of work. This orientation process should not be more than 10 minutes. Getting the volunteers to the task at hand and teaching them the fine sort process in a timely manner is a priority. 


It is expected that volunteers have viewed the welcome video, completed the general project C.U.R.E orientation, and have been given a tour of the organization.

The three "plates" needed to help Project C.U.R.E achieve its mission are:

  • Medications
  • Volunteers
  • Money for shipments
  • Food items
  • Safety gear
  • Donations of medical supplies & equipment
  • Computer paper

Can you identify what the C.U.R.E in Project C.U.R.E stands for?

  • Contributing to Urgent and Real Emergencies
  • Commission on Urgent relief and Equipment
  • Countries Undergoing Real Expectations
  • Creating a Usable Reality for Equipment

True or False - Leaders at Project C.U.R.E should focus on building and managing quality relationships with the volunteers

  • False
  • True

Fine Sort Process Overview

Fundamentals of the Fine Sort Process

Overall Goal:

Sort donated supplies according to their appropriate category and pack/label them to ensure that they're ready to be shipped to hospitals an clinics around the world.

Fine Sort Process can be broken into:

  1. Sorting 
  2. Packing
  3. Labeling

Fine Sort Process Example (Adobe Spark Videos)

True or false - It is necessary to ensure accuracy when sorting materials so that clinics receive supplies that they need and medical supplies are able to get through customs

  • True
  • False


Step 1 - Group incoming goods by sorting into like items

  • Grab a box of incoming goods
  • Dump items onto fine sort table
  • Sort dumped goods into like items, which will make the next step easier

Step 2 - Using Directories to Sort - Sort Directory book & C.U.R.E. Sort

What is the Sort Directory book?

A printed, alphabetical list of items that volunteers may come across when sorting. There are typically two sort directory books on each sorting table; each organized by item type and searched by keyword.

To use:

  1. Review the description  on the item's packaging
  2. Select a keyword from the packaging that describes 'what' the item is
  3. Look up such keyword in the book - use additional information from the packaging to determine which entry is most applicable if there are multiple entries for your original used keyword
  4. Place item in the corresponding product code bin

What is "Cure Sort"?

An online listing of items that volunteers may come across while sorting - Organized by item type, searched by keyword OR barcode.

  • Includes more items than the sort directory book

To use: 

Option 1

  1. Review the description  on the item's packaging
  2. Select a keyword from the packaging that describes 'what' the item is
  3. On the computer, go to the home screen, type the item's keyword, and search.
  4. Review search results to determine the most applicable result
  5. You can also use Control-F to enter an additional keyword to find best result

Option 2:

1. Items can also be searched for in C.U.R.E. Sort by scanning their bar code 

2. Scan the barcode on the label of the item, and if the item is in the database, it will show you the correct bin number

Let's Practice!

To look up this item using the Sort Directory book:

  1. In this example, the item above is a Bard 50cc Bulb type Irrigation Syringe
  2. "Syringe" would describe 'what' this item is (better than 'Irrigation' or 'Bulb')
  3. Look up 'Syringe' in the sorting directory book to find the correct bin number
  4. Results will show as follows: Syringes, irrigation: Bin #1702

To look up this item using C.U.R.E Sort:

  1. In this example, the item above is a BD Vacutainer Safety-Lok Blood Collection Set
  2. Volunteers could search 'blood' or 'collection set' (the 'what') or BD Vacutainer(manufacturer)
  3. Example: Type "BD Vacutainer into search field, then blood into the in-page find (Control F) function
  4. The barcode on item can also be scanned using this method as an alternative option
  5. Results will show as follows: 
    1. Product Code: 801 
    2. Brand: Vacutainer
    3. Description: Blood Collection Set 
    4. Manufacturer: BD

Step 3 - Sort into bins

Based on the results from the directory that is used, the number of the correct bin, also known as the "product code", that the item should be placed into is determined. Also listed will be a description of the type of items.

Examples of bin numbers/product codes will look like this:

  • 0801
  • 1702

Specialty Bins

Based on the product code, some items belong in special bins that will have a different color label, such as the blue label in the photo above. Some of the specialty bins include Biomed, Instruments, Lab supplies, and Fluids. When an item belongs in a specialty bin, the will be in red text (Shown to the right). 

Product Codes

Bins & Product Codes

There are approximately 120 bins that the medical supplies are sorted into. Each bin has its own product code that is  4 or 6 digits long either #### or ####.##.

The first two digits of the product code are the category, they are listed below, the following numbers are sub categories. 

Common category number and description

Common category number and description


Office supplies


e.g., baby/birthing supplies


e.g., manuals, journals, magazines


e.g., casting, splint, wraps


e.g., linens, gowns, gloves, scrubs


Patient products
e.g., shampoo, lotion, enemas


e.g., toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash


e.g., nebulizer, ventilator, O2 mask


e.g., gauze, Band-Aids, tape


e.g., cleaning brushes, swabs


e.g., cleanup/trash bags, disinfectants, sharps containers


Surgical 1
e.g., cardiac surgery, ENT (ear, nose & throat), anesthesia, chest tubes


e.g., IVs, needles, syringes


Surgical 2
e.g., scalpel, sutures, staples


e.g., blood drawing, lab containers


e.g., catheters, catheter trays


e.g., cups, oral syringes



Which of these is the correct product code for cloth products?

  • 1201
  • 0302
  • 1401
  • 0701.99

Expiration-Date Controlled product Codes

Expiration Dates

Products will often have an expiration date on them and it is important to look for them and decide what steps to take next. 

Expiration dates that are:

  • Over 3 years out of date must be tossed. 
  • Items to be injected or ingested should be tossed within 18 months of today's date. 
  • Items being sorted into the expiration-date controlled bins. These are the bins with green labels or the 6 digit product code ending in .99.


Why must we pay attention to expiration dates?

  • If the item is expired it must always be thrown away
  • The product is defective after the expiration date
  • Custom regulations will sometimes not take items that are past their expiration date
  • Items that are being ingested or injected have a stricter date
  • Items often take a while to reach the country they will be used in so it is important that items with 6 digit product codes meet the requirements listed on the box.

Items that are sorted into the dual sort bins can be packed by fine sort volunteers?

  • False
  • True

Sterility of Items

Certain products must meet some sterility requirements

An example would be if a drape is in its own packaging and is sterile it would go into box 1624 but if it was not sterile it would be placed into box 1701. Both of these boxes are white boxes the only differing conditions is the sterility of the item. If there is no nonsterile counterpart to a box then it is important to throw the item away. 

Volunteers that have questions about the sterility of an item should approach the group leader so that you can make a judgment call on what to do with that item. 

What do we throw away? (Select all that apply)

  • Sterility is compromised when this is a requirement for the product code
  • Has any discoloration
  • Appears broken damaged, or bent
  • Is dirty and cannot be reasonably cleaned

Discarding Items

Project C.U.R.E. does our best to send as many items as possible to recipient countries. The C.U.R.E. Sort will sometimes indicate items that should be discarded. There are three main reasons why we discard an item:

  • The item is for a procedure that is not performed as often as here in the United States.
  • Some items are just not as critical as others. 
  • Project C.U.R.E. has the ability to dispose of, recycle, or donate supplies that we receive in a responsible manner. Places that we ship to might not have the capability to dispose of these items in the same way that we can so it is more responsible for us to do so then to ship the items out. 


Packing is the final step before items are entered into our inventory system 

  • Goal: neatly and completely pack boxes that weigh no more than 25 pounds each
  • Fill boxes full to optimize space in each shipping container
  • Don't over-fill boxes to the point that they could explode when opened

Steps to properly pack:

  • Select a full product code bin and check that the items are correct
  • Ask the fine sort leader that items are correct 
  • Find an appropriate sized packing box
  • Check bin to ensure items are correct 
  • Fill packing box full with items, while counting items as you go
  • Write the product code & item count on short end of box
  • Tape the packing box closed

True or False Packing is the last opportunity to ensure quality control

  • False
  • True


Once items in the box are counted :

  • Seal the box
  • Weigh the box
  • Print a packing label and place it on the box
  • Put box on pallet


CureLabels, an inventory/box label system, is used to create labels that store updated inventory data in the system. To create a label:

  • Click the CureLabels icon on the computer
  • Once on home screen, double click on 'Enter Print Labels'
  • Volunteers then need to enter the Product Code of the items, Quantity of items, and Box Weight
  • Click 'Print Label' to print out the packing label

What should you do if you make a mistake creating a label?

  • Throw the label into the trash
  • Put label into the bad label box

What 3 items must be entered into the CURELabel system to ensure a proper label?

  • Product Code
  • Volunteer Name
  • Box Weight
  • Time
  • Quantity

At the end of the day what must be done with the CURELabel System?

  • Upload the labels to Sharepoint so that they can be tracked in inventory
  • Inform your volunteer group how many boxes they packed.

Leading the Fine Sort process

Preparing to Lead

Preparing to Lead

Leading a group generally follows these six steps:

  1. Set-up/Preperation
  2. Teaching the group how to sort, pack, and label
  3. Teaching the group about Quality & Safety
  4. Overseeing the Event
  5. Clean-up

Setting up for the Fine Sort Session

The first step in setting up is to gather supplies necessary for your volunteers to Fine Sort. 

Essential items to gather include:

  • Sorting Directories for each sorting table

  • Blue surgical markers

  • Ball point pens

  • Ample supply of corrugated cardboard boxes of similar dimensions

  • Supply of smaller boxes.

  • Utility or similar device cutting device

  • Packing tape & dispensers

  • Trash bags

  • CURE Sort should be pulled up on the appropriate computers

Next, bring a pallet of unsorted supplies from the back of the warehouse. It is preferable to sort a pallet that has already been pre-sorted whenever possible. It is also preferable to select pallets that contain supplies that are appropriate to the experience and knowledge level of the group. A group of high schoolers might find it easier to sort cloth products where a group of nurses should sort tricker items such as surgical instruments. 

Which of the following are examples of essential items needed for set-up of the Fine Sort Process? Select all that apply:

  • Small Boxes
  • Trash Bags
  • Eye goggles
  • Face Masks
  • Ball Point Pens
  • Box-cutting Device
  • Packing Tape
  • C.U.R.E Sort & Sorting Directory
  • Paper Clips & Tissues

It is the responsibility of the Fine Sort Leader to make sure appropriate supplies AND quantities are available before and after each fine sort session

  • True
  • False

Teaching Processes to Volunteers (Adobe Spark Video)

Teaching the Sorting Process

Describing the basing sorting steps

  • Get a box of incoming items
  • Sort items into like types
  • Use the Sorting directory or the CURESort to find the correct bin for the items
  • Place items into the correct bin

These following steps must also be taken

  • Describe what specialty bins are and what goes in them
  • Explain what to do if the volunteer can't find where an item should go
  • Talk about supply integrity as well as sterility
  • Even if a volunteer thinks they know where something goes every item should be looked up at least once
  • Talk about safety again

Example of supply sorting 

Teaching the Packing Process

Volunteers should be given a description on how to properly pack a box 

Steps to properly pack:

  • Select a full product code bin
  • Check bin to ensure items are correct 
  • Ask the fine sort leader that items are correct 
  • Find an appropriate sized packing box
  • Fill packing box full with items, counting items as you go
  • Write the product code & item count on the short end of box
  • Tape the packing box closed
  • Weigh the box
  • Print packing label and apply it to the box
  • Tape the box closed

Boxes that are not white should not be packed by the fine sort volunteers


General Safety & Best Lifting Practices

It is the responsibility of the Fine Sort Leader to address safety concerns at stake while leading volunteer groups. The following points regarding safety should be addressed:

  • The hospitals and clinics that donate to Project C.U.R.E. are aware that donated consumables should not be used and sharps should not be exposed. On rare occasions, a used consumable (like a dressing) or open sharp (like a needle) has been donated
  • Always dump boxes on the table before sorting. Volunteers should never reach their hands into boxes, and gloves should always be worn
  • When lifting, make sure to squat low to the ground and keep your back straight. Lift with your legs and not your back, and use the assistance of another person if a box is too heavy
  • Never lift anything unless you are sure you can do so safely.

Sharps Disposal

  • Volunteers are to dispose of sharps, e.g., unpackaged needles, blades, broken glass, in the appropriate sharps container in the sort room.
  • Blunt needles and filter needles do not need to go into a sharps container.
  • Fine Sort Leaders should ensure there is a supply of sharps containers and that they are changed out when full.
  • Notify the Operations Director when sharps containers are full to arrange disposal.

Hazardous Liquid or Chemicals

  • If hazardous materials including mercury, formaldehyde, acids, etc. are discovered by volunteers, they need to be double bagged, placed in a plastic bin, labeled and taken to the hazardous materials storage area in the warehouse.
  • Volunteers that find hazardous supplies should notify their Fine Sort Leader, who should then notify the Operations Director.


  • If volunteers discover any controlled substance or prescription medication, they need to first be taken to the Fine Sort Leader and to the Operations Director’s office so that it can be handled appropriately. 
  • This policy differs slightly in our Denver office. 
  • Please talk to the Operations Director for more details.


Discarding Items

There will be items and products that the sort directory or C.U.R.E. Sort will indicate need to be discarded.

Be sensitive when discussing discarding items with volunteers. If volunteers are discarding items, make sure to explain why the item is being discarded and that it is something we try to avoid but it occasionally necessary.

Main reasons that not all items sent to Project C.U.R.E. can be used include:

  • Some countries that we deliver to do not perform specific types of surgeries or medical practices as often as they are performed in the U.S. Therefore, we often receive more of those supplies than are needed abroad and need to discard the excess
  • Some products are not as critical as others. Sending less critical items would take the space of more critical items such as gloves in the shipment.
  • Project C.U.R.E. can discard, recycle, and donate items that are not needed in a responsible manner. Many times, the disposal site is a pile of trash in the center of town. 
  • *If we are unsure whether an item can be used, it is more responsible to dispose of it in the U.S. rather than ship it only to have it thrown away by a clinic*

Sterility & Reliability of Supplies

All items in certain product codes must be sterile. If the packaging for an item that is required to be sterile is compromised, it should be:

  • Removed from the packaging and placed in the non-sterile counterpart of the product code, if available
  • Discarded if there is no non-sterile counterpart for the original product code

If the product code does not have to be sterile, volunteers should still use best judgement. 

If the item is something used externally, such as a brace, it is probably okay that it is not sterile. If the item is used internally, it may need to be sterile even if the product code does not require sterility.

Expiration Dates

More than half of the medical items we process have an expiration date. In the U.S. these dates are typically used to prevent litigation and reflect that the manufacturer is validating the product until that date.

However, the date does not indicate that the product is defective after the expiration date. The hospitals and clinics we partner with recognize that these medical supplies are useful and safe. It is very important to indicate the expiration date is for certain items due to customs regulations.

During the fine sort process, expiration dates need to heeded when:

  • Items are blatantly out-of-date. e.g items more than 3 years past their expiration date should be discarded.
  • Items will be ingested or injected – if so, item should be discarded if it expires within 18 months of today’s date.
  • Items are being sorted into expiration-date controlled product code bins.

Material Condition, Appearance, and Usability

All items should be reviewed for appearance, condition & usability. Project C.U.R.E. receives and ships supplies and materials that are in good condition, clean, and have usability.

To ensure that the best possible materials get to recipient clinics or hospitals, an item should be discarded if it:

  • Has any discoloration
  • Appears broken, damaged, or bent
  • Is dirty and cannot be reasonably cleaned
  • Sterility is compromised when this is a requirement for the produce code

Overseeing the Fine Sort Process


Clean Up

It is expected that group leaders ensure sort rooms are clean following a volunteer group visit. At the end of the shift, the volunteers should assist the group leader in cleaning the sort room.

Cleaning tasks of leaders include:

  • Finishing packing any overflow bins
  • Empty the trash cans and replace trash bags
  • Return unsorted supplies to the incoming supplies pallet
  • Put away sort books, tape guns, pens, etc.
  • Sweep the floors and pick up trash
  • Wipe down sorting tables

It is a requirement for the Fine Sort Leader to have all volunteers completing the same task

  • True
  • False

Which out of the following should be done during the Fine Sort process to ensure safety & quality? Select all that apply:

  • check integrity of packaging
  • checking expiration date of item
  • lifting with legs & not back
  • avoid sharp needles, etc

Next Steps in Training

Demonstrating your knowledge of Fine Sort Leader skills

The skills checklist sheet is a list of all skills needed for leaders of all specialties. It is crucial that as a Fine Sort Leader, you are competent in these skills including but not limited to knowing where to find important items, knowing where appropriate items are placed, knowing how to use equipment, etc. 

Please refer to the Fine Sort Training Manual & the General Group Leader Training Manual -

The following must be completed before you become a Leader:

  • Appendix A of the manual contains the specific skills that must be checked off for Fine Sort Leaders
  • Appendix C of the General Group Leader Training Manual contains a skills checklist sheet that is needed for leaders of all specialties
  • Both skills checklists must be signed off by the Operations Director or a mentor who is already cleared to lead

Being Cleared to Lead & Ongoing Training

  • Once you have finished all required training, the final step in getting certified to lead groups is to lead a group under the supervision of a certified Fine Sort Leader.
  • Work with your mentor to choose a group on the calendar to lead.
  • The mentor will be provided with your Appendix A: Group Leader Information Sheet from the General Group Leader training manual and will sign-off after a successful group session.
  • The mentor should return the signed Appendix A of the General Group Leader Training Manual to the Group Leader Trainer.
  • Once you are certified to lead, there will be regular refresher trainings to provide updates on procedure changes and provide information on events happening within the organization. 
  • Throughout your time as a leader, you will learn some best practices and tips, as well as observe areas for improvement.
  • Please keep the Group Leader Trainer and the Operations Director updated on these lessons learned.

Signing-up to Lead Groups

Volunteer sessions that need a Leader can be found at

  • Group Leader opportunities will be shown in calendar form
  • "Location" will either be Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Phoenix, Houston, or Midatlantic
  • By clicking on the opportunity and pressing “Sign Up”, you can register to lead that event. At this point, you may be asked to “sign in”
  • After you sign up, if VolunteerHub tells you that you are on the Wait List, enough leaders have already signed up. 
  • You are still welcome to attend and help lead the event, however, as we can never have enough help.
  • After signing up, you should receive a confirmation email with the details on the event.
  • More information on VolunteerHub and how to access event info can be found in Appendix L of the General Team Leader Manual