The Rotary Club of Bracebridge is looking to the community to help them send shelterboxes to Syria and Turkey after massive earthquakes hit the area leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
The earthquake hit on Feb. 6 and mainly affected central Turkey and the northern and western areas of Syria. The British Broadcasting Corporation reports over 52,000 people have been confirmed to have died in the earthquake. They add in a March 6 article that “at least” 1.5 million people are now homeless.
Keith Montgomery, chair of the Rotary Club’s World Community Service Committee, says they have a disaster relief fund that is used for situations like this. “Unfortunately, there have been a few disasters recently that we’ve supported,” he says. However, after a discussion with the Club’s executives, they were able to donate $6,000 to ShelterBox Canada, which is enough to buy five shelterboxes.
“It’s developed into a worldwide charity that provides disaster relief to areas hard hit by floods, fires, earthquakes, whatever,” explains Montgomery. “A shelterbox contains an all-weather tent that will provide shelter, food, lighting, water filters, and blankets, it even has crayons for kids. It’s tailor-made for 10 people for six weeks.”
A fundraiser has been set up on the charity’s website.
“They all need help right now,” says Montgomery. “Get the politics out of it. People are just desperate.”
The Rotary Club of Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes, which is a separate organization, is also sending money to help earthquake victims.
Rotarian Don Mackay says enough money for six shelterboxes has been sent. He explains the rotary club normally raises money and donates some to charity, but leaves a little left over. “When things happened around the world that we feel compelled to help, we can dip into that fund,” he explains. “Often it sparks members to dog into their own pockets to match it and make it even more impactful.”
MacKay says a family of Syrian refugees, who have since become Canadian citizens, live in Bracebridge and were due to speak to the rotary club the day after the earthquake happened. MacKay says they asked them where the money should go and they suggested donating it to shelterbox.
“They’re still hundreds of thousands of people with nothing,” says MacKay.