Summit Rotary Club to match ShelterBox donations for Nepal earthquake victims | SummitDaily.com

Summit Rotary Club to match ShelterBox donations for Nepal earthquake victims

Jessica Smith
jsmith@summitdaily.com
ShelterBox tents set up in a temporary camp on open ground in the Sindhupalchowk district of Nepal.
ShelterBox International / Special to the Daily |

Donate to ShelterBox

Tax deductible donations can be made by check, payable to the Summit County Rotary Charitable Fund with “Shelter Box” on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 4401, Frisco, CO, 80443, or delivered to any of the three branches of 1st Bank in Summit County.

For more information, visit ShelterBoxUSA.org.

Rubble dominates the landscape of Nepal. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country on April 25 wreaked havoc from the capitol to rural villages, collapsing buildings and sweeping entire towns away in avalanches. More than 8,000 people have died and more are missing, many in cut-off rural communities.

Those that survived face daily struggles of finding water, food and shelter while trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. Among the aftershocks, a second major earthquake striking just 47 miles east of Kathmandu on May 12 served to further traumatize the already reeling region.

Since the first tremors died down, aid has been pouring in from all over the globe, though aid workers have had to deal with the same challenges as the locals. The large amount of news, images and calls for donations from charity organizations are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, the Rotary Club of Summit County has stepped forward to offer a way for Summit residents to help the people of Nepal in a way that they know will make a difference.

SHELTER NEEDS IN A BOX

In 2012, Rotary International named ShelterBox its project partner to collaborate on sending aid to locations in need worldwide. ShelterBox got its start as a project for the Cornwall, England Rotary chapter in 2000, and officially became a nonprofit organization in 2004.

The concept is simple. A Shelter Box is a large green plastic container that holds the essentials for shelter and survival in the elements. The main component is a hardy, all-weather tent that can sleep an extended family of up to 10 people. Thermal blankets and groundsheets are included, as well as a helpful toolkit, among other items. Since fresh, drinkable water is often a scarce resource during natural disasters, the Shelter Box includes water purifying equipment and various types of water storing containers. Each box weighs around 120 pounds.

The very first Shelter Boxes were sent to victims of an earthquake in India in 2001 — a total of 143. ShelterBox’s first major deployment — about 10,000 boxes — occurred in 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, which swept over the coastlines of 14 countries, with a death toll in the hundreds of thousands. That next year, ShelterBox sent out over 22,000 boxes to tsunami victims and other disaster locations.

The organization’s tagline is “Shelter, Warmth and Dignity.” Everyone who receives a Shelter Box also gets a proof of ownership certificate.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Summit Rotarian Bernie Zurbriggen. For several years he acted as Summit Rotary’s ShelterBox ambassador, and gave presentations on the organization’s mission and boxes.

REACHING OUT TO NEPAL

In light of the current Nepal situation, Summit Rotary is calling for donations to ShelterBox. One Shelter Box costs $1,000. Donations of any size are welcome, said Zurbriggen.

To make Summit’s donations stretch further, the Summit County Rotary Charitable Fund — an endowment fund — will match the first $15,000 of public donations received by May 31.

The reason for the deadline, Zurbriggen said, is to get the money and supplies to the people who need it as soon as possible.

“The need is now in Nepal, so we’re trying to get this going as quickly as we can,” he said.

In fact, ShelterBox already had volunteers working in Nepal because of floods and landslides that occurred last year. The number of volunteers and situation assessors they’ve sent over has grown in light of the recent tragedy. Experienced ShelterBox volunteer Becky Maynard commented on the situation as she prepared to deploy.

“The images coming out are painting a picture of real devastation — families living in pop-up tented cities, afraid to go back to their homes,” she said. “Storms and flooding could bring another level of desolation.”

Before the second earthquake hit, the ShelterBox website reports that its teams were able to get boxes and supplies to 1,000 families made homeless by the disaster. Further updates and videos can be found on the website at ShelterBoxUSA.org.

Zurbriggen and his fellow Rotarians encourage Summit County residents to donate whatever they can, and doing so before the end of the month will result in their dollars doubling, matched by the endowment fund.

“It’s an opportunity to really do some things for the people in Nepal,” Zurbriggen said.


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