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Making a Difference, Five Pounds at a Time

Pack for a Purpose™ is a newly founded nonprofit dedicated to providing educational materials and medical supplies to children in destinations around the world. The organization was founded on the principle that every little bit helps, and all it takes to make a big impact is to use a small amount space in your luggage for supplies when packing for a trip abroad.

The concept is simple, and getting involved is easy. The organization ‘s website lists by country the travel and accommodations providers, along with their contact info, who support legitimate educational and medical community projects. The provider lists specific needs for projects they sponsor.

To participate, travelers can simply visit the site, find a listing for their destination, and bring a few pounds of the requested supplies in their luggage to drop off when they arrive. Each listing on the Pack for a Purpose Web site has been contacted about the program, has agreed to participate and eagerly welcomes all contributions from travelers.

“Five pounds can be as much as 400 pencils or five deflated soccer balls,” said Rebecca Rothney, a former North Carolina school teacher-turned-entrepreneur who founded Pack for a Purpose with her husband, Scott and several committed friends. “The first time we took supplies, we visited a local school in Botswana and the kids were playing soccer with a ball of rags tied together with string,” she said. “It’s startling to see just how little some of the schools and clinics have to work with. I believe we can all find a little space in our luggage for a bag of supplies. If enough people make small contributions, we have the potential to make an enormous positive impact. While crayons, Band-Aids and similar items are very simple things that most Americans take for granted, many people in the places where we have travelled just don’t have them. We can help fix that one traveler at a time.”

The Rothneys had transported supplies in their luggage long before they made the model accessible to other travelers. The idea behind Pack for a Purpose came to Rothney while talking to her travel agent about a trip to Kenya in 2008. She asked the agent why his other safari clients did not also use some of their luggage allowance for taking supplies. “Because nobody thinks about it. “he said. That was her a-ha moment. “Then I need to provide a way for them to think about taking supplies,” she told the agent. Pack for a Purpose was born.

One of the first contacts Rothney established for the program was Michelle Puddu of Wilderness Safaris in South Africa. Rothney and her husband had personally worked with Puddu to bring many hundreds of pounds of school supplies to South Africa and Botswana over the course of several different trips.

“The idea is a brilliant one – it costs almost nothing on the part of the donor, just a great deal of kindness and a small amount of effort,” Puddu said. “Rebecca has proven on several trips how so very little can affect those who desperately need assistance to improve their lives. This is the type of goodwill that nobody really thinks about, but makes a big difference.”

Pack for a Purpose has identified more than 25 locations in popular tourist destinations in Africa, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. They are are in the process of identifying appropriate destinations on every continent where travelers can drop off needed supplies. Travelers can help them expand their network by visiting the Pack for a Purpose website and submitting a lodging for consideration (under the contact tab). Travel and accommodations providers can add their own organization and contact info to the database.

Travel Agents and booking companies have the opportunity to become a Pack for a Purpose Partner. In exchange for connecting them with six new accommodations providers, Pack for a Purpose will post your logo and a direct link to your site, and acknowledge your company on the Partners page of the website. To receive credit for the Lodgings you recommend, please make sure the Lodging identifies you at the end of the “Needs List” on the “Submit a Lodging” form, found on the “Contact Us” page of the Pack for a Purpose website. Include the phrase “Recommended by (your company name)”.

For more information about Pack for a Purpose, travel locations, lists of needed supplies and other ways to get involved, visit or contact them at

This article is quoted from the newsletter PATAnews from PATA . The article was originally published on 2010.05.21.

This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Cooperation and network, Sustainability, World.

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