Abdul and his family live in a demolished village in Pakistan. They have been living under the open sky, where temperatures dip below 15 degrees Celsius in winter. Aid items from ShelterBox gave them a roof over their heads, solar lights and clean water.

Abdul and his family live in a demolished village in Pakistan. They have been living under the open sky, where temperatures dip below 15 degrees Celsius in winter. Aid items from ShelterBox gave them a roof over their heads, solar lights and clean water. (Courtesy photo)

Santa Barbara-based ShelterBox USA, a global disaster relief organization, hosted 200 guests at a recent virtual Evening to Experience ShelterBox, and raised more than $200,000 to replenish its warehouses after a busy year that has included responses to the war in Ukraine, catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, and historic drought in Eastern Africa.

The Evening to Experience ShelterBox is hosted online annually, providing an opportunity to learn about ShelterBox’s history, aid items, and current responses around the world.

“We are deeply grateful to everyone who attended our event,” said Kerri Murray, ShelterBox USA president. “Whether it is through spreading the word about ShelterBox, volunteering their time, or donating, these amazing supporters allow us to reach more families around the world who have lost everything in an instant.

“There are more than 100 million displaced around the world right now — more than ever before — and our work has never been more important.”

Founded in 2000, ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and other essential items following disasters or in conflict zones. ShelterBox began with its iconic green box, which included everything a family needs immediately after losing everything in a disaster.

It has since evolved to provide customized aid, including tents and various shelter options, solar lights, water filters, and cook sets.

ShelterBox USA’s recent event featured videos highlighting beneficiaries of the global organization’s work in Ukraine, Haiti, and Cameroon.

Guests heard details about ShelterBox’s responses in 2022, one of the busiest years in its history. In Ukraine, ShelterBox was one of the first humanitarian organizations on the ground, quickly establishing three programs.

One provided 12,000 mattresses to those fleeing to collective centers like schools and churches in Western Ukraine; another sent Shelter Kits including tarps, tools, and water filters to those sheltering in damaged homes in the central part of the country; and a third provided hygiene kits and cash assistance to refugees fleeing Ukraine through Moldova, one of the poorest and most isolated countries in Europe.

That work earned ShelterBox USA the United Nation Association of Santa Barbara’s 2022 Peace Prize last month. Rep. Salud Carbajal also presented the organization with Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for its work.

Murray also discussed ShelterBox’s work in conflict zones such as the Lake Chad basin in Africa, which earned ShelterBox nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 and 2019. And she discussed new responses to the historic drought in Ethiopia and Somalia that has displaced more than 1 million people searching for food and water.

Guests were invited to make donations online if they were inspired by the work. An anonymous donor matched gifts up to $100,000.

The program concluded with remarks from Steven Tonkinson, a member of the ShelterBox USA Board of Directors and the ShelterBox Response Team, a group of trained volunteers who deploy to the frontlines after disasters.

Tonkinson was also a ShelterBox “Adventurer” this year, hiking the equivalent of the elevation of Mount Everest, 29,029 feet, with a large green ShelterBox on his back to raise awareness and funds for ShelterBox. Tonkinson ultimately raised $60,000. 

For more information, visit ShelterBoxUSA.org.