Pack for a Purpose is a 501c Non Profit organization that makes it easy for travelers to have a positive impact on the communities they visit. The Organization has over 370 global collection points around the globe and provides a list of requested items for that location and information about the programs they benefit. It is a really great way to give back to the communities you visit abroad.
Since it’s creation in 2009 travelers who have Packed For A Purpose have donated more than 30,000 pounds of supplies to schools, clinics and orphanages worldwide. It’s as simple as adding just 5 lbs of medical supplies, school supplies or sports equipment in your luggage.
Participation really is that easy. After selecting your destination you can choose an accommodation or tour company that supports a project in that area. There you will always find a list of supplies needed. Once you arrive it’s simply a matter of dropping those supplies off at the accommodation or tour company. The supplies will then be delivered to the community-based project for you.
Even though you don’t have to, I chose to stay at my drop off location during a trip to Thailand last year. The Spicy Villa Eco-Lodges in Chiang Mai is owned and run by a lovely gentleman named Samart. Passionate about helping his community, Samart runs a tight ship at his eco-resort. You can choose to pay to stay in one of the amazing bungalows deep in the mountains, or you can even request to do a volunteer/work program for room and board.
Long conversations with this bright fellow along with my short 2 night stay here are one of my most favorite memories of any trip I’ve ever taken, EVER. From helping to prepare meals from scratch to taking walks through rice patties to visit waterfalls, I loved the resort and Samart in particular so much, that I am determined to return with my family when my son is a bit older to stay for a week or two. They run a number of charity projects under their “Share the Dream Project” in addition to being a Pack For A Purpose Partner and by staying with them I had the unique opportunity to visit one of their project locations and deliver my donations directly to the children of the school! (This is not a typical occurrence).
Spicy Villa’s particular Pack for a Purpose project benefits the schools of Baan Mai Sa Wan, KhunPoey and Mae Sa Pok. This trio of schools serve over 100 children from ages 2 through 12 years old. There are three projects serving these schools. The goal of Project One works to teach english to children from ages 2-5 in Khunpoey Village. Additionally the kids are also taught about self sufficiencies through recycling programs and garden plots.
Project Two works to teach English to about 20 kindergarten students in a Karen Village (Mae Sa Pok Village) and Project Three works to teach English to children ranging in age from 5-12 and currently serves 35 students in a Karen Village (Baan Mai Sa Wan) in Doi Inthanon National Park.
Each of the destinations have their own specific needs. For instance the The Baan Mai Sa Wan, KhunPoey, Mae Sa Pok school are in need of supplies such as:
- General School Supplies:
Book Bags, Chalk, Colored Construction Paper, Colored Pencils, Crayons, Glue Sticks, Handheld Pencil Sharpeners, Markers, Pencils, Pencil Cases/Bags, Pens, and Rulers
- Flash Cards:
(English) Alphabet and Word
- Wall Charts:
(English) Human Body and Language
- Text/Reading Books:
(English) Age Appropriate Story Books and Language/Grammar
- Art Supplies:
Craft Scissors and Watercolor Paints and Brushes
- Educational Games/Toys:
Bananagrams, Connect Four, Puzzles, Scrabble, and Stuffed Animals/Soft Toys
- Sports/Outdoor Activity:
Frisbees, Jump Ropes, Netball/Basketballs, and Soccer Balls
New or Gently Used Children’s Clothing and Shoes
Important: When you Pack for a Purpose, it’s so important to bring only the items requested because these are the things most needed and unrequested items, even with the best of intentions, are usually not of great value to the communities.