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Connoisseur's Choice in Luxury Living

400 Hundred Pencils

400 Hundred Pencils

When 400 Hundred Pencils are the Perfect Hostess Gift

By Rebecca Rothney

My mother always told me that when you visit someone and experience their hospitality, you need to bring a hostess gift. This was one of the founding principles of Pack for a Purpose the global non-profit I founded 4 years ago.

During our first trip to Africa, my husband Scott and I realized that the airline allowed us 90kgs of checked luggage in addition to 18 kgs each of carryon bags. However, our safari, once we landed in Botswana only allowed 18 kgs of luggage per person. I realized that we could put our checked luggage allotment to good use by bringing a meaningful gift of appreciation to the host country on our next trip.

On our second trip to Africa, we planned to visit the Mabele Primary School near Kasane Botswana. As a former teacher of twelve years, I understood how difficult it can be to get school supplies for a classroom.

With help from Wilderness Safaris, a highly respected ecotourism operator in Southern Africa, we were able to identify items needed by the school, and equipped with this knowledge, delivered 64kgs of requested school supplies and soccer balls. It was enormously rewarding to be able to help the people in the community that had given us such a life-changing experience.

After several trips where we, along with friends delivered supplies to communities in Botswana and South Africa, I began to explore a way to include other travelers in this meaningful opportunity. When I asked our travel agent why other travelers did not use their luggage allotment this way, he simply told me other people did not think about it. I realized that if more travelers were involved, they could make a huge impact on the lives of those in need.  In order for my idea to become a reality, I knew I would need assistance from many of my talented friends.

With their help, the Pack for a Purpose website went live in December of 2009. The process is simple: select a destination, find a lodging or nearby tour company, choose the supplies you wish to bring from the list of items they requested, and then drop them off when you arrive.  Pack for a Purpose currently partners with lodging destinations and tour companies to provide over 370 locations in over 50 countries. All lodgings or tour companies affiliated with Pack for a Purpose are delighted to accept supplies, regardless of whether or not a traveler is staying there.

Our all volunteer, nonprofit organization makes it very easy to make an impact in a meaningful way. Most travelers do not realize that by setting aside space for less than 3 kgs in their luggage, they can provide 400 pencils or five deflated soccer balls for a school or an orphanage. For the same weight, travelers can bring a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and 500 band-aids for a clinic. With that one stethoscope, a traveler can touch 10,000 hearts.

In the past four years, Pack for a Purpose has become a successful, impactful reality. Global travelers have brought over 14,000 kgs of supplies to community projects in over 50 countries around the world. We have received several awards including the Travel & Leisure Global Vision Award in 2012, and we were shortlisted for The Observer Ethical Award in the Travel category in 2013.

Pack for a Purpose’s motto is “Small space, little effort, big impact.” Before your next trip, I would encourage you to spend time exploring our website to see how easy it is to positively influence a community near your destination. Pack for a Purpose gives travelers a way to add value to their vacation, making sure the trip they take goes much farther than the miles they travel!

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