Most people would never think to pack a stethoscope or a package of rulers for their vacation. Unless they are a doctor or a teacher, these items may not even be things they own, but a non-profit organization known as Pack for a Purpose is asking international travelers to find a little more space for items like these in their suitcases.

By coordinating with local tourism agencies and hotels, Pack for a Purpose compiles a list of basic medical and educational equipment needs that travelers can easily squeeze into their bags when they travel abroad.

Some of these supplies are simply for recreation like deflated soccer balls, and others, like blood pressure cuffs, are essential instruments for quality medical treatment in impoverished nations.

Founded by retired schoolteacher, Rebecca Rothney, Pack for a Purpose has provided needed school and medical supplies to thousands around the globe. They have been able to do this simply by connecting travelers with a little extra luggage space to relief and aid programs all over the world.

On Pack for a Purpose’s website, a map directs travelers to different regions and shows them what hotels and tourism groups participate in Pack for Purposes exchanges so that charitable travelers can choose their destinations based on local needs.

In a recent, radio interview with WUBR’s Here and Now, Rothney describes her earliest experiences bringing supplies to schools on the African continent. In one of these stories, Rothney describes how a package of rulers nearly brought a school’s principal to tears.

Pack for a Purpose’s contention is ultimately that small efforts to support struggling communities can have tremendous impacts. In fact, many people don’t realize jut how powerful a device like a stethoscope can be for a local clinic, and in part that is because of how commonplace they are in the developed world.

In the four years of its operation, Pack for a Purpose has delivered over 16,000 kilos of supplies worldwide. The truly remarkable thing about this number is that it was all done by individual effort. Travelers from all different backgrounds and origins who simply made a little extra room in their bags have, in doing so, made a measurable difference in thousands of lives.

– Chase Colton

Sources: Here and Now, Pack for a Purpose, Boston Globe
Photo: Forbes