If you are a Pack Light traveler, you probably often find yourself with extra room in your luggage when you go on vacation. Have you ever thought about using that available luggage space to provide supplies to communities you visit?
The desire to give back or contribute to the place people visit as tourists is a fast-growing movement around the world. Volunteer vacations, or volunteerism, are a very popular way to take a vacation. Another way is to “pack for a purpose” and bring needed school and community supplies to your vacation destination.
Pranamar Oceanfront Villas & Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica has been cooperating with the program Pack for a Purpose, which connects travelers wanting to make meaningful contributions to help the places they visit and local community-based projects that receive and use the supplies.
“Every time there is a yoga retreat coming and they ask us if there is a way to help the community, we tell them to make a little space in their luggage and bring colored pencils, scissors, notebooks, coloring books, etc. to donate to the local schools,” commented Tania Bertolo, Concierge at Pranamar Villas.
In 2014, the beachfront hotel on Santa Teresa Beach in Costa Rica donated supplies to local schools in the nearby communities of Manzanillo and Montezuma that had been brought by hotel guests as donations.
“We would like to offer to our guests that if they would like to do something to help our community, and they can make a little space in their luggage, to bring supplies for the children. We have this great organization to give the donations to that is working with the children in our community,” said Bertolo.
That organization is the non-profit Aprendiendo Unidos (meaning “Learning Together” in Spanish). Since March 2014, Aprendiendo Unidos has been helping the local children of Santa Teresa and neighboring communities who attend schools that don’t have ample educational resources and school supplies.
Gabriela Medina, Director of Aprendiendo Unidos, said the organization currently helps four schools in the Santa Teresa area: Bello Horizonte in Manzanillo, Mal Pais, and two tiny rural schools of San Fernando and Bajos de Ario.
“We have learned that the public schools are really lacking in books, paper, pens … all the things we take for granted as part of a school’s supply to the students. However, that is not the case in the public schools in Costa Rica,” noted Pranamar Villas’ owner, Susan Money. “We invite our guests to pack a few notebooks, or any school supplies they can fit, into their suitcases for us to distribute to various schools. It sets a tone of appreciation not only from those of us who are residents, but from people all over the world who are able to spend time in this part of the world.”
“Pranamar will make sure your gifts go directly to the schools, and your kindness will make a difference long after you leave!” Money added.
- School supplies like pencils, notebooks, kids’ scissors, backpacks, etc.
- Art supplies for painting and coloring
- Children’s books in English or Spanish
- Ball caps, sun hats and sunscreen for kids
- Water filters and re-usable water bottles
- Games like puzzles, Scrabble, etc.
- Musical instruments
- Funds to help pay for school uniforms, assist with nutritional support at the schools, upgrade school facilities
- 6 First aid kits for the schools
- 50 New or gently-used yoga mats to teach kids yoga
- IPod and speakers to use for dance lessons & yoga
- 50 Mini-computers or tablets for language lessons, etc.
On award-winning Santa Teresa Beach in Costa Rica, on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, Pranamar Oceanfront Villas specializes in Costa Rica yoga retreats and Costa Rica surfing vacations, with daily yoga classes for hotel guests and the public.
Article by Shannon Farley