Boxing up Relief

Posted by Katy Petershack in Interviews, Organizations Edit

Balochistan Earthquake 2008 | photos courtesy of ShelterBox/Mark Pearson

When disasters strike, thousands of people may be left without shelter. In 2001 Tom Henderson, a former Royal Navy search-and-rescue diver, founded the organization ShelterBox to combat this problem. He created a compact kit that holds enough supplies to help families stay alive and healthy. ShelterBox has several branches in different countries including one in the USA. I spoke with Casey Chadwick, the Public Relations and Marketing Director for the USA branch.

Ms. Chadwick told me, “As soon as I started learning more about [ShelterBox] I became very interested. … [This is] a sound program for humanitarian aid relief.” The boxes typically contain a ten-person tent, thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, waterproof ponchos and bin bags, a multi-fuel stove, cooking supplies, collapsible water containers, water purification tablets, a basic tool kit and a small children’s pack with drawing books. This kit can help a family of 10 survive for six months.

Each box can be tracked. Ms. Chadwick noted that donors are “provided with a box number. When that box is deployed we give them all the information on exactly where their box is sent. .. They are apt to donate again because they can find out so much information about what they were able to provide for someone else who lost everything.” The ability to track donations sets ShelterBox apart from other humanitarian aid organizations.

ShelterBox recently responded to calls for aid in both the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Pakistan. Ongoing conflict in the DRC has displaced tens of thousands of people. As a result of an earthquake in Pakistan, 50,000 people must sleep outside in freezing temperatures because it is unsafe to remain in their homes. ShelterBox has committed 400 boxes to the DRC and 1,000 boxes to Pakistan so far. Volunteers accompany the box deployment to deliver the boxes.

Since its creation in 2001, ShelterBox has aided over 500,000 people. Ms. Chadwick observes that the organization has “a niche in the humanitarian aid arena which allows us to be so successful…. It’s practical aid that people can see.” With assistance to 45 countries and counting, ShelterBox continues to provide a home to disaster survivors around the world.


The ShelterBox Trust HQ
Unit 1A
Water-ma-Trout, Helston
Cornwall TR13 0LW
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1326 569782
ShelterBox USA
7357 International Place
Suite 102
Sarasota, Florida 34243
941 907 6036

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