NEWBERRY — A $1,000 box filled with supplies to last about six months helps provide families left with little to nothing after a disaster.
The box is actually a 501(c)(3) non profit organization called Shelter Box who provides aid and assistance to people all over the world since its inception in 1999.
Lisa Smith from the Rotary Club of Chapin came to the Rotary Club of Newberry on Friday afternoon to talk about this disaster relief project. Smith became an ambassador for this project after hearing about it through another Rotary Club.
“This charity struck a chord with me to do something instead of nothing when it comes to helping people through a disaster,” Smith said, who knew she wanted to get involved with something but was not quite sure what or where to begin.
“Shelter Box is a charity that started with a single Rotarian from the U.K. (United Kingdom). Tom Henderson had an idea. He responded to a gap in disaster relief service,” explained Smith.
The idea happened in 1999 and it grew from a Y2K (Year 2000) project, according to Smith.
The box includes a tent big enough to house about 10 people which also withstands extreme temperatures and rainfall, a basic toolkit with items including an ax, hammer, saw, shovel, hoe, pliers and wire cutters, pots and pans and other cooking utensils, thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, water supplies and supplies for children.
Smith says that kits are tailored to location.
For instance, “for one country, we sent boxes of water purification systems,” said Smith.
The organization works with Rotary Clubs, humanitarian agencies, Girl and Boy Scouts and others. In fact, Shelter Box has been named as a project partner by Rotary Club, Smith said.
One addition to the tent that has been helpful are solar light bulbs, Smith points out. The lights hang outside of the tent during the day and are brought inside at night or whenever darkness hits, she explains.
Currently Shelter Box is helping out in the Philippines and Australia. It has also been to Africa, Haiti and Senegal, Smith said.
In 12 years, Shelter Box has been helped more than 140 disasters in every continent, Smith said.
For more information about the organization, visit www.shelterboxusa.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.