I was recently reminded of this great program I’ve written about before. Pack for a Purpose is a non-profit organization that facilitates world travelers using what might otherwise be fallow space in their luggage to bring vital items to communities of need around the world.
If you’ve got a little wiggle room in your bags, 400 pencils for kids who have none weigh about five pounds. Same weight for five deflated soccer balls and an inflation pump…or a stethoscope a blood pressure cuff and 500 bandages. Better to fill the unused space than to have all your stuff shifting around in there, right?
It is super easy for you, the traveler, and since the organization partners with hotels in countries across the globe, they handle all the details. You go onto the website, choose your destination for your vacation or business travel, and find which hotels or guest houses in the area are participating. You drop your donation items off at that business, and they handle getting it delivered to the school or clinic or charity that desperately needs it. Based on where you are headed, they even have requested, easily transported wish list items, so you don’t have to stand in the middle of some store while juggling all your other travel details, and try to decide what to bring.
So simple, and so profoundly helpful. The network of participating accommodation properties is growing all the time, so check it out next time you’re hitting the road. If there is a fit, it is kismet, and no skin off your nose to volunteer and change some lives in the destinations you visit.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best–the ones that make you hit yourself in the head like a V-8 commercial and wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”
When Rebecca and Scott Rothney took a trip to Africa, they recognized that they had a luggage limit of 40 pounds for the safari portion of their trip, yet the international airline regulations allowed them a total of 140 pounds per passenger maximum, with checked and cabin luggage combined. What if there was a way to use that extra 100 pounds of packable space to deliver school supplies to a community in need at their destination? Their first attempt required lots of groundwork and research to find the needs of local communities…so they’ve taken on all that hassle for us, and created Pack for a Purpose, a website asking you to pack just a simple extra five pounds in your luggage of needed items for the destination where you are headed. There is a page of drop-down menus for destinations in ten global regions, and within each destination category, specific hotel/lodge/resort properties where you can drop off your bundle, and the specific needs of that community (health clinics, schools, etc. needing things like bandages, over-the-counter medicines, soccer balls, pencils, children’s shoes, etc). There is also specific advice on how best to pack–which items should be left in original packaging, which should be streamlined for saving space, and more. The drop-offs are expected at the properties, and they get the items to the community, so it really is effortless on our part.
I wish I had known about this prior to my recent visit to South Africa–it would have been great to bring requested supplies to local orphanages and schools near where we stayed.
Check out the site, and then check it out again when next you are traveling. Five pounds is nothing, and also guarantees some packing space on the way home for souvenirs you buy from artisans to support the local community.