ShelterBox USA, a Santa Barbara-based disaster relief organization, is nearing $300,000 in fundraising in its first ever virtual event, which will end up also being its most successful event ever.
Titled “An Evening to Experience ShelterBox,” the event was held on Thursday and hosted by ShelterBox USA President Kerri Murray.
It was live streamed from headquarters in Santa Barbara by over 1,150 people from across the nation, “which is unheard of for a virtual event,” according to Ms. Murray.
“What made this so special was that we were able to be inclusive of volunteers and supporters from across the nation and the world,” Ms. Murray told the News-Press. She added that a supporter from Sweden even dialed in in the middle of the night.
ShelterBox response team members shared experiences from their deployments worldwide, highlighting beneficiaries who have received aid.
These include families who lost their homes in Vanuatu following Cyclone Harold and the refugees displaced during COVID-19 who are now living at the Minawao Refugee Camp in Cameroon.
“We thought people would be dropping off after the first five minutes, but the majority stayed on until the very end,” the president continued. “It was incredible, just the amount of engagement throughout.”
ShelterBox has also provided 250,000 displaced people in the Syrian crisis with emergency shelter and household items, along with providing relief to people affected by Super Typhoon Goni in the Philippines and Hurricane Eta in Central America.
In addition, ShelterBox honored Rotary International with the 2020 Global Humanitarian Service Award, recognizing their partnership.
“I think the work of ShelterBox really, really struck a chord this year,” President Murray said. “I think every person on the planet can really relate to how important their home is and their safety and wellbeing during the COVID crisis.
“When people learned about our work working with displaced families and people who are living in refugee camps with little ability to social distance or isolate, they understand just how important it is for vulnerable people in the world to have access to shelters.”
She encouraged other nonprofits who have had to cancel their live, in-person events to go online and try a virtual event. President Murray said that virtual events allow organizations to engage with their constituents and be “very inclusive of a broader potential supporter base.”
“I think that’s why people really dug deep and they want to help people who are less fortunate than them, who during this pandemic are really vulnerable,” she concluded. “There’s no chance for a hospital bed for these families, so we have to do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable right now…It’s more important now than ever before.”
To learn more about ShelterBox USA, visit https://www.shelterboxusa.org.