‘Shoebox’ takes new dimension: Disaster readiness
Though it remains a four-sided repository, this shoebox has repurposed its mission since the humanitarian scheme was launched in 2012.
Army soldiers based in Camp Nakar in Lucena City launched their “Project Shoebox” on Feb. 19, this time to help poor families living in high-risk areas in Quezon province in the event of a natural calamity.
“The box will contain a disaster kit,” Lt. Col. Facundo Palafox IV, commander of the 2nd Cavalry Squadron’s Mechanized Infantry Division, explained.
It has a flashlight, transistor radio, dry cell batteries, basic emergency medical items, whistle, several T-shirts and laminated hotlines of the local Philippine Red Cross unit, Quezon Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, police, military, firemen, and search and rescue groups.
When Project Shoebox was first launched in February 2012 by Lt. Col. Thomas Sedano Jr., head of 4th Light Armor Battalion, in partnership with Sigma Alpha sorority from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, the container had basic supplies and personal care items for selected elementary schools.
In December that year, the soldiers lifted the Christmas spirit among 5,000 poor families in remote areas in the country through the “Noche Buena Mo, Nasa Shoebox Ko.”
Following its success, the project was tapped by the Department of Education as partner for its “Balik Eskwela” nationwide program last year.
Palafox said the theme of this year’s undertaking, “Shoebox ko para sa Kaligtasan mo,” was conceptualized as early as August last year.
“Our initial target is to distribute at least 1,000 boxes of disaster kits. We want to distribute more, but the number will depend on the support of our partners from the business sector and most importantly the public,” he said. A kit costs P500, he added.
With the massive destruction wrought by a killer quake in Bohol province last October and Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in the Visayas, the importance of a disaster kit in every home has become more imperative, Palafox said.
He appealed to Good Samaritans to give items for the disaster kit to the Army unit’s headquarters inside Camp Nakar. Donations in kind are preferred.
The latest launch was attended by representatives from the city and provincial government, several big companies, Quezon-based nongovernment organizations, civic groups, police and media.
Henry Buzar, Quezon disaster management officer and guest speaker, said having a ready disaster kit in cases of natural or manmade calamities “can spell survival for those who have the kit.”
In particular, Buzar cited the grave threat of flash floods in Lucena should the two major rivers—Dumacaa and Iyam—overflow. Low-lying parts of the city along the river banks had been experiencing sudden floods caused by surging seawater from Tayabas Bay, especially during high tide, and rainwater cascading from Mt. Banahaw.
The province has had horrific experiences with storm surges and monster typhoons that left thousands of people dead and billions of pesos worth of properties destroyed, Buzar said.
Thirty-four of the 42 towns are along the coastline—17 along Lamon Bay in the Pacific Ocean, 12 along Tayabas Bay facing the China Sea, and five along Ragay Gulf.
Maj. Dennis Caña, squadron executive officer and one of the prime movers of this year’s Shoebox project, said: “We pray that the recipients will now have the time to need it for its primary purpose.”
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