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  • Dave Hallett


ShelterBox is now a globally recognized NGO that provides aid directly to families whose home has been lost or damaged in a natural disaster or through conflict. ShelterBox had its humble beginnings as a millennium project celebrating Rotary International’s 100th year in 2005.

Each ShelterBox contains a 12-person tent, ground sheets, blankets, a stove, cooking utensils, plates, water carriers, water filters, tool kits, and solar lights. ShelterKits contain two large UV-resistant tarps for temporary roofing, three kinds of nails, tools, rope, and other equipment to help with home repair.

The three Kingston Rotary Clubs were introduced to ShelterBox following Cataraqui Rotarian Bill Gray’s attendance at the 2005 Rotary International Convention. He arranged for a demonstration ShelterBox to be sent to Kingston and Rotarians started spreading the word around Eastern Ontario communities about this tangible way help in disasters. The three clubs, Queen’s Rotaract, and our District 7040 have been consistent, ongoing supporters of ShelterBox ensuring that aid is ready whenever disaster strikes.

In 2010, the Rotary Club of Kingston raised $33,000 to purchase about 30 ShelterBoxes. Queen’s Rotaract set up a display at the corner of Union and University Streets and raised $2,364.50 in a few days. In total, our three clubs and Rotaract have purchased over 50 units.

I have been on ShelterBox teams following the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China: the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti; the 2011 famine in East Africa; the 2013 super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; the conflict in Syria and Iraq; the 2018 earthquake in Indonesia; and the 2019 cyclone that devastated Mozambique and Malawi. In all of these, I can personally attest to the proper placement and use by survivors and the worth of our ShelterBoxes in saving lives.

Since 2012, ShelterBox and Rotary have been official international project partners in disaster relief. Rotarians and Friends of Rotary all over the world help ShelterBox with tireless fundraising and invaluable assistance during responses. With more than 37,000 clubs worldwide, Rotarians are able to give ShelterBox first-hand assistance and contacts in many of the countries in which we respond: logistical and operational assistance and vital links to communities.

As one of our Waterfront Rotarians, I have had the privilege of on-the-ground experience, hand-delivering ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits, and seeing their impact. This statement holds true: “When you are able to hand-deliver shelter to families who have lost their homes, loved-ones and livelihood, you know you are helping those families with tangible aid on their journey to recovery. The look of relief on a mother's face when she gets to move her children into a tent or a father's determination to repair his family's home when provided with a ShelterKit is priceless.”

Rotary Clubs and Rotaractors of Kingston know that ShelterBox is ready to help the most vulnerable families who have lost their homes anywhere in the world. We invite our community to join us in continuing our support of ShelterBox.

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