Lake Forest - Lake Bluff Rotary members were out at area train stations Wednesday morning to raise awareness and funds for special shelter kits to be sent to Japan's earthquake victims


By Steve Handwerker | March 23, 2011

Despite cold mist and rain, Wednesday morning at area train stations, Lake Forest - Lake Bluff Rotarians raised donations for ShelterBox emergency shelter kits to be sent to Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami victims.

“So far we’ve raised over $3,000 and that’s really just a beginning. A lot of what we’re doing today is giving people information on where they can make a donation,” said Tom Coyle, a local Rotarian at Metra’s Lake Forest Station.  “Probably a few hundred dollars today from the train stations.”

Collections had not been counted by press time, but Cliff Kiehl, a local Rotarian at Metra’s West Lake Forest Station, said, “I saw a couple of 20s go in, along with the 50-centers.”

The durable, green ShelterBox weighs 55 kg., contains a 10-person tent, bedding, two mosquito nets, rain ponchos, stainless steel dishware, silverware, stove, water purification system, tools, and a children’s activity pack, and provides shelter, warmth and dignity to 10 victims of manmade and natural disasters.

“All of the essentials for living except food,” said Coyle. 

Rotary and ShelterBox USA provide the kits, distribution is determined by local authorities, and ShelterBox makes sure they reach the elderly, sick, mothers with children and others most at risk of dying without shelter and warmth.

Though immediate need is in Japan, year-long fundraising enables ShelterBox to pre-position the boxes worldwide.  The kits in Japan had been pre-positioned in the Philippines, said Coyle.

Inn 2010, 48,000 ShelterBoxes were distributed worldwide, more than half sent to Haiti.  So far this year, Rotary has sent thousands to Japan, New Zealand and Bolivia.

ShelterBox was the idea of Rotarian Tom Henderson, a retired British Royal Navy search and rescue diver watching how disaster relief was done in 1999.  He felt materials and dignity were not being preserved and came up with a better way.

Only 15 percent of the $1,000 goes towards organizational overhead, according to Coyle and Kuby.  The rest purchases components and pays for delivery.  Send contributions to Lake Forest – Lake Bluff Rotary Club Foundation (501(c)3), P.O. Box 168, Lake Forest, IL, 60045.