BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Travelers along Route 59 in Nanuet might have done a double-take this past Friday night and Saturday as they passed the Rockland Mattress parking lot. It was hard to miss the large RV parked alongside the circular silver tent and the smoking fire pit. No, these were not some campers who took a wrong turn off the Palisades. This was the Nanuet Rotary Club’s ShelterBox Camporee, designed to raise funds and awareness for ShelterBox USA.
ShelterBox USA is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2004 as the US affiliate of ShelterBox UK. The organization originated in Cornwall, England and was founded in 2000 as a way to provide emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to families displaced by disaster and war. ShelterBox has always been closely associated with and supported by the Rotary Club, and in 2012 became Rotary International’s first project partner.
Each large green waterproof ShelterBox is packed with a durable tent that can sleep up to 10 people as well as other equipment that will aid displaced persons survive for weeks or even months until permanent shelter can be found. The contents of the box might vary somewhat depending on its ultimate destination; however, in addition to the tent, the boxes will include cooking utensils as well as some kind of portable stove, first aid and water purification equipment and building tools. The boxes also always contain something special, like crayons or books, for children who may have lost everything. It costs $1,000 to stock and transport each box.
According to Nanuet Rotary Club president Joseph Modafferi, the club has so far raised enough donations to fund four boxes. Its goal is to fund at least another three to four. The club’s focus right now is on the families displaced by the civil war in Syria. “We don’t need to decide who’s at fault,” Modafferi says of the conflict. “What’s important is that families are losing their homes and hiding in the mountains without shelter or education. We’re trying to help them get both.”
This year Growler and Grill, located just adjacent to the Rotary’s temporary campsite, partnered with the club to raise money for the cause. The Rotary Club held the camporee at the same time as G&G’s beerfest, and G&G donated beer baskets for raffles during the fest. G&G patrons even stopped by the campsite to learn more about the ShelterBox program.
Modafferi, joined by his fellow Rotarian Jim Damiani, slept overnight at the campsite as a way to draw more attention to the cause. Modafferi’s grandson, Joseph III, came to help out on Saturday, along with other adult Rotarians.
Those interested in learning more about ShelterBox can go to the website ShelterBoxUSA.org. Donations can be made to “ShelterBox” c/o Nanuet Rotary Club, PO Box 281, Nanuet, NY 10954.