The non-profit group Pack for a Purpose asks travelers to save a little space in their luggage for supplies to donate to schools and hospitals in the destination they’re visiting. The organization just launched operations in its 56th country by partnering with Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curaçao to deliver needed supplies to a children’s hospice, an after-school program, and a youth soccer club.
This is so easy. And smart. Even something as simple as a coloring book, crayons or a few packs of bandaids can provide significant value in areas where items such as these are scarce or expensive. Pack for a Purpose recommends travelers bring five pounds of donations, but many people bring a lot more and sometimes less.
You might be surprised how much a child appreciates something like a ruler, especially one who has never seen a ruler before.
Founder Rebecca Rothney first came up with the idea of Pack for a Purpose while visiting a school on safari in Botswana. On a subsequent trip in 2009, she and her husband Scott brought additional suitcases filled with 140 pounds of school supplies, including deflated soccer balls.
Aterwards, Rothney thought anybody could do this very easily if hotels and tour operators promoted the idea and helped facilitate the donation process. Not necessarily 140 pounds of donations, of course, but something.
She writes on her website: “I asked our travel agent why other travelers did not use their luggage allowances this way. He said, ‘Because nobody thinks about it.’ That was our aha moment.”
Since then, Raleigh-based Pack for a Purpose has signed up over 400 lodging accommodations and tour operators on five continents, who have collectively distributed over 30,000 pounds of supplies to schools, orphanges and clinics.
Based on that significant, collaborative
Rothney summed up the Pack for a Purpose mission during a recent Boston NPR interview. She said:
“It’s like a hostess gift website, actually. So that you can bring the perfect hostess gift, like all our mothers taught us to do, to say thank you for the wonderful hospitality you’re going to enjoy. All the needs lists come to us from the local source. If they get everything they need in one area, they simply email us and we take those items down, and we add new items as the needs arise. So it can be very current, which is important because you don’t want to take something that’s not really needed by anybody.”
To learn more about the specific supplies needed in Curaçao, visit Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort’s dedicated Pack for a Purpose website page.