By John Anderson
When Auburn Middle School Principal Joe Gagnon was at the Rotary Pancake Breakfast last spring, he saw a display that intrigued him. The company was Shelter Box, and Rotary clubs are an international fundraising partner. He thought this might be a good community service project for the students at the middle school.
In 2000, Shelter Box was established in Great Britain and offered an alternative in disaster relief. Durable plastic storage containers contain survival essentials for people displaced by a disaster and are shipped around the world when needed. The box contains a tent, stove, lighting, cookware, a water purification system, sleeping gear, and other tools that will help a family survive a natural disaster.
From the massive earthquake in Nepal last year to the super typhoon that destroyed part of the Philippines in 2012, Shelter Box has helped people around the globe. 2,000 Shelter Kits with tools to rebuild homes were sent just last week to Paraguay were massive floods caused by El Niño have devastated parts of the country. From its website, Shelter Box has responded to more than 270 disasters and humanitarian crises in almost 90 different countries.
During the three lunches at Auburn Middle School on Tuesday, Auburn Rotary President Marcia A. Davis talked with students about the Shelter Box mission and displayed a box and erected tent. When Principal Gagnon took the microphone, he issued a challenge to the student body of about 600.
Over the next two weeks of this internal fundraiser, he hopes each student will donate $1.50 to this cause. If they raise the first $900, Gagnon said, “I’ll throw in the last $100.” The Shelter Boxes cost $1000, and come with a GPS tracker. The school will be able to monitor the travels of their sponsored box for its life in worldwide disaster relief.
People who watched “Shark Tank” on ABC last week saw a story about luminAid, an innovative lighting product adopted by Shelter Box. This product is about the size of a wallet but opens within an 8×12” waterproof bag for use. The battery powered LED light can provide up to 30 hours of light on a 7-hour charge in direct sunlight.When a person losses their home, light is essential for safety and survival.
Good luck to the students at Auburn Middle School and thanks for helping out a very worthy cause.