Chicago: Help send Rotary ShelterBoxes to Haiti


It seems that everyone has a way to contribute to help Haiti earthquake victims. Here's mine: Rotary International's ShelterBox program.

ShelterBoxes are specifically designed for disasters when food, water, medicine and shelter are the most important and immediate needs, as they are in Haiti. The box also provides dignity for the victims who are left unclothed, homeless, starving, severely injured and dehydrated. Each box supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and
essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless. It is a highly mobile, effective response to major disasters for people who are isolated by their tragic circumstances. ShelterBoxes have played important roles in the Katrina Hurricane and Indian Ocean Tsunami disasters.

You can get specific information about Shelter Boxes and how they work by going to the program's website here and here. There you can find the latest details about how they are helping in Haiti and elsewhere. 

The boxes, full of tents and other supplies staged and custom-packed for disasters are not cheap. They cost about $1,000 each, and the need right now is for money. You can donate, whatever you can, by going here.

It would take too much space and time to described what everyone around the world is doing to help get ShelterBoxes to Haiti. Here's just one local example, in Northbrook. This is from Richard Rivkin, President of the suburb's Rotary Club: 

Tuesday January 12, the Glenbrook North High School Interact Club presented us
with a check for $500 for ShelterBox.  Our club matched this with $500
from our Lucky Bucks collections to purchase a ShelterBox in the name of The
Rotary Club of Northbrook and the Glenbrook North High School Interact
Club.  In addition, our club Board of Directors today authorized the purchase
of 2 additional ShelterBoxes, as budgeted, in the name of The Rotary Club of
Northbrook.  Therefore, today, Friday...we will be sending $3,000 to ShelterBox USA for the purchase of 3 ShelterBoxes. In addition, International Service Director Wayne Berzon will explore ways that our club can work with the 17 clubs in Haiti and their district 7020 for future projects that will assist in the rebuilding efforts. I am personally very proud of the response of our club and our community.

The contents of every ShelterBox include:

At the heart of every ShelterBox is a ten-person tent. It is custom
made for ShelterBox by Vango, one of the world's leading tent
manufacturers, and is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, high
winds and heavy rainfall. Internally, each tent has privacy partitions
that allow recipients to divide the space as they see fit.

A smile
Every box contains a children's pack containing drawing books, crayons
and pens. For children who have lostmost, if not all,their possessions,
these small gifts are treasured.

Warmth and protection
In addition to the tent, the boxes contain a range of other survival
equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets,
essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall. Where
malaria is prevalent mosquito nets are supplied, as well a life saving
means of water purification. Water supplies often become contaminated
after a major disaster, as infrastructure and sanitation systems are
destroyed, this presents a secondary but no less dangerous threat to
survivors than the initial disaster itself.

Self sufficiency
A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe
head, pliers and wire cutters can be found in every box. These items
enable people to improve their immediate environment, by chopping
firewood or digging a latrine, for example. Then, when it is possible,
to start repairing or rebuilding the home they were forced to leave.

Fit for purpose
Every item is durable, practical and brand new. The box itself is
lightweight and waterproof and has been used for a variety of purposes
in the past - from water and food storage containers to a cot for a
newly born baby.

A heart to the home
A key piece in every box is either a wood burning or multi-fuel stove -
that can burn anything from diesel to old paint. This provides the
heart of the new home where water is boiled, food is cooked and
families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs
and water storage containers.

We keep a broad range of equipment in stock so we can adapt the
contents of a box to a specific disaster. For example, following the
Javanese earthquake in 2006, when some resources were available locally
or could be salvaged fromone storey buildings, the overwhelming need
was for shelter - so we just sent tents, packing two in each box.


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  • Those in the USA wishing to make a donation please go to or make sure to scroll down and select "USA" from the main website at

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