Oh, packing. Packing is usually my most dreaded part of traveling, especially now that I have young children I need to pack for and must anticipate all that they might possibly need in the length of time we will be away. But, this fall I was able to pack and make a difference when traveling to Beaches Turks & Caicos with Pack for a Purpose and that made packing fun and rewarding.
The Sandals Foundation is the charitable arm of Sandals Resorts International, parent company of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts. It proudly supports over 55 local Caribbean schools with a variety of programs and initiatives through a partnership with Pack for a Purpose. Pack for a Purpose is an awesome way to give back as it allows travelers to Beaches luxury resorts to get involved and influence the lives of thousands of schoolchildren in Turks & Caicos.
Before our trip to Beaches Turks & Caicos, we took advantage of back to school BOGOs and price discounts to load up on items for kids in need. As I was shopping I was thinking about what learning would be like without access to basic school and art supplies and my heart just broke. That's one of the few things we will buy our kids year-round because to me it is a crucial part of childhood, and I cannot imagine if we couldn't afford to have a fully stocked art and school desk for them to create and learn with. We packed them in the backpack Beaches sent us to bring as well as loading up one carryon for the way down and I loved watching the bags fill up with all these much-needed supplies. My daughter was so excited that she asked to carry it so she could have a part in donating the art supplies for other kids. Once we got to Beaches, we loaded up the backpack with the heavier items that had traveled in the suitcase and then we donated it all at the Sandals Foundation breakfast. Just look at this impressive pile of school supplies us bloggers brought down from the States. You can't see it in this picture, but there are printers from HP hidden in the back as well as car seats from Britax. This pile only grew as everyone else arrived for the breakfast, and it was really fun to watch it expand throughout the morning.
Can you believe that this pile grew to over 300 pounds of donations? A little backpack can clearly make a huge impact! We also learned that in the past 5 years since the organization got started, travelers have brought more than 57,000 pounds of supplies to more than 400 locations worldwide.
At the breakfast itself, I was thrilled to sit right next to Director Heidi Clarke who was just as curious about blogging as I was about the Sandals Foundation. We had a great talk about how bloggers can help the foundation and how happy everyone was to host us for the week. She was so sweet during our talk and hearing her address the group was so inspiring that I couldn't wait to write this post to share what a difference you can make if you Pack for a Purpose. Want to know more about how you can get involved? Check out PackForAPurpose.org to see all the ways you can donate, even if you don't have the luggage space, as well as the Pack for a Purpose partners that you can help support. You can also visit the Sandals Foundation website where you can see their holiday toy drive and how you can help.
Disclosure: I received a discounted rate at Beaches Turks & Caicos as part of the conference, however all opinions are 100% my own.