Marietta Noon Rotary Club thinks inside the ShelterBox for disaster aid

Photo provided by Jacky Miner At a recent Marietta Noon Rotary meeting, members got to see one of the tents from the ShelterBox. From the left are Danielle Bruni, Tammy Bates, Ken Morrison, Suza Zumwalde, guest Barb Schafer, Columbus Rotarian Jack Young and Davis Powers.

MARIETTA — The Marietta Noon Rotary Club is raising $5,000 to help those affected by natural disasters around the globe.

By partnering with ShelterBox, Rotary Clubs are purchasing boxes of goods useful to people displaced by conflicts and natural disasters.

The boxes cost $1,000 each and contain tents for a family of four, a potbelly stove, solar lights, water containers and a purification system, tools, cooking utensils, blankets and mosquito nets.

“One of Rotary’s main objectives is to promote world peace,” said Laura Miller, past president of the Marietta Noon Rotary Club.

Shawn Taylor, club president, said part of the mission of Rotary is to support causes both international and in the community.

“We’ve done a lot of local stuff,” he said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for us as a community to give something to something bigger than us.”

He said there are people who are completely devastated by natural disasters.

“This may be the only opportunity for hope they have while they are rebuilding,” he said.

Residents can see a lot of what’s in a shelter box, as items are set up in a window at the Peoples Bank at Putnam and Second streets in Marietta.

Miller said in 2018 alone, some 210,000 people around the world had been helped by the shelter boxes, which represents 40,000 to 50,000 families.

“It has the things that you would need, because whether it’s a hurricane, typhoon, or earthquake, or fire, or flood, whatever it is, those people are displaced from their homes,” Miller said.

ShelterBox is based in Wales, U.K., and has a network of people in every country that report any natural disaster that happens.

“They know within 60 seconds in Wales if a natural disaster has occurred or is in the process of occurring in an area,” Miller added. “And they start getting boots on the ground, which are all volunteers.”

It isn’t just international Rotary clubs who are partnered with ShelterBox, but there are local organizations in different countries who volunteer.

Miller said when a natural disaster happens in the United States, there are organizations such as FEMA and the American Red Cross to help, but in third-world or developing countries, it is harder to get help.

“The reason we are doing this now is natural disasters happen all the time. But if we wait until it happens, it’s too late,” she said. “It’s a big drive to try and get these shelter boxes in place.”

She said there is no accountability for the boxes, and once the family gets their lives back in order, they can keep the items in the box or pass them along to another family in need.

“It’s a gift that says you’re going to be safe and your family is going to be safe,” Miller said.

The Marietta Rotary Club has set up a GoFundMe page for those interested in donating gofundme.com/RotaryOfMarietta-ShelterBox.

“We tend to raise a lot of money within Rotary, but with this, we thought Marietta was a very generous community. This might be something our entire community could get behind,” Miller noted. “All the money raised will be given directly to ShelterBox.”

She said there isn’t a particular disaster they are purchasing shelter boxes for, but the club is hoping the community will “get behind the bigger picture of what’s going on, especially since we just had those big earthquakes in California.”

The Rotary club has permission to set up a tent on the Armory lawn for the Sweet Corn Festival this afternoon. Miller said they will be giving information on the project, including the fact that it was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.

“That’s a big deal,” she said.

Members of the noon Rotary club will also be set up on the Armory lawn on Aug. 1 and will have a booth at the Sternwheel Festival on Sept. 6-8 as a fundraiser.

Fundraising for the ShelterBox project will continue until the end of September.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.