Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 24, 2013

Boxes of life after big disasters

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — One Pauls Valley civic club continues to work with a truly international program designed to help those victimized by disaster anywhere around the globe.

Club member Allie Burgin says the program is called “Shelter Box.”

The name says it all here as the program works to collect the support needed to provide boxes filled with things like shelter, food and water.

Basically, the items filling the box offer the essentials needed to survive after some type of disaster strikes somewhere on planet Earth.

“It provides at least shelter and meals and water — the necessities of life,” Burgin said about the boxes.

“When there's an emergency they load these boxes and send them to wherever the disaster is,” he said.

“They're distributed through Rotary clubs to areas where they're needed.”

According to Burgin, the program was started in 2000 by a Rotary club in England.

Since its inception the program has been effective because of all the Rotary club connections around the world, he said.

Each Shelter Box provides shelter in the form of a tent capable of holding up to 10 people, along with a variety of other items such as food, water, dishes, tools and a camp stove.

These survival boxes have literally gone all over the world over the past few years after disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and typhoons.

A large number of those boxes, 1,200 to be exact, were also taken after the massive Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast of the U.S. back in 2005.

Even closer to home some of the boxes were sent to parts of central Oklahoma after destructive tornadoes swept through this past spring.

Burgin says the people who take those boxes to areas struck by disaster really know what they're doing because each one is a volunteer who must first go through a kind of “boot camp.”

The program involves ongoing fundraising since it costs around $1,000 to equip each box.

Typically the Rotary club here, along with the Interact club made up of local students from Pauls Valley High School, join forces to purchase one of these boxes each year.