Gray discusses ShelterBox with Crowley Rotary

By: Jeannine LeJeune
CROWLEY – In the aftermath of a natural disaster, many onlookers can begin wondering what can they do to help.

That wonderment led to the creation of ShelterBox and also what led to Mark Gray getting involved with the organization.

“I was looking for a way to participate in a meaningful way in the aid to Haiti,” said Gray.

He then began searching online and found ShelterBox, which was started by a Rotarian, Tom Henderson.

Henderson and his wife saw a gap in aid disbursement that they believed needed to be filled, so they created ShelterBox in the year 2000 which looks to bring forth one of the most important factors in survivor: shelter.

Each ShelterBox supplies an extended family with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless. Among the things found in the durable plastic box, which has a variety of uses on its own, is a durable and large tent that can last for up to five years and can be used by a family of up to 10 people, mats to sleep on, mosquito netting where necessary, a stove, water treatment, plates, tools (for cutting wood and such) and a children activity pack.

ShelterBox has helped in disasters across the world and is now established in the forefront of disaster relief.

“Our goal is to be a part of the immediate response, in other words, 24 to 48 hours after the event,” said Gray.

The boxes have supplies from across the world and are packaged in the United Kingdom.

They are distributed quickly thanks to donors’ contributions, which can be tracked, and partnerships such as those with international affiliates as well as the Rotary Club (as a Global Rotary Project) and the Scouts Association.

Gray explained that ShelterBox’s number one partner, however, is Rotary International.

Volunteers are also always welcome as the organization’s success is made possible by volunteers.

“As far as volunteers go, SRTs are always needed,” said Gray. “But that takes a very special person with special personality traits.”

Each time ShelterBoxes are deployed, a team accompanies them to ensure that they reach those in need. Not everyone qualifies for a ShelterBox and those determinations are made by the team in the country where the disaster occurred.

ShelterBox can be found online at http://shelterboxusa.org, visit the organization’s website for more information.

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