The beauty of civic organizations is that not only do they serve their local communities, but they often extend a helping hand to their brothers and sisters across the border and beyond.

The Rotarians are no exception.

On Thursday, the Stephenville Rotary Club listened to a presentation on ShelterBox, an ambitious program aimed at providing emergency shelter for one million displaced people around the world.

Alyson Farmer, a Fort Worth Rotarian involved in the program, spoke to the group about the program’s beginning and plans for the future. She said the program was first started by a Rotary Club in England.

“The group began collecting items that could be put in a box and shipped to disaster areas immediately,” Farmer said. “Every time there is a disaster like (Hurricane) Katrina or what happened in Haiti, a representative from ShelterBox goes to the area to assess how many (boxes) are needed.”

The boxes cost about $1,000 to assemble and weigh approximately 120 pounds.

Some of the items inside the waterproof green box include a 10-person tent, water purifying system, water, blankets, tools, clothes, dishes and a cook stove.

Getting involved in the program is not limited to Rotarians. Businesses and individuals, churches, youth groups, and, of course, other civic organizations can also participate.

Boxes are assembled and distributed once they are sponsored. Each box is assigned an identification number so sponsors can track their box’s deployment online.

For more information about ShelterBox, call 941-907-6036 or visit