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Climbing for a cause: helping refugees during a pandemic


Last updated 7/15/2020 at 1:01pm

Courtesy of Shelterbox

Brittney Woodrum carries a ShelterBox on a recent Colorado mountain hike.

Anyone who knows Brittney "Bert" Woodrum will not be at all surprised by her latest undertaking. After becoming an Ambassador for ShelterBox last year, Bert has been working to raise money to provide shelter to disaster victims around the world. Quarantined at home due to the current pandemic, she decided she needed to think big, really big. Her plan is to hike all 58 of Colorado's Fourteeners with the iconic (and large) ShelterBox on her back. "There has never been a more pivotal moment for this project than now. Shelter plays a huge role in the health and safety of individuals. If you do not have shelter, it's impossible to shelter in place, and pandemics like these impact vulnerable populations the most."

Beginning in July with Pike's Peak, she plans to summit all 58 peaks by the end of September. Weeks of planning, support from her ShelterBox colleagues and from local Rotary Groups, will help her manage both the logistics of this undertaking and her goal of raising a little over $80,000. She is asking service clubs and Colorado businesses to sponsor her for $1,400 per summit. Of course, anyone is invited to sponsor at any level they can, and more details will be available on her website.

If you are wondering how she will manage climbing one 14,000 foot plus mountain every day, you need only look at her track record. As an avid thru-hiker, she has completed the entirety of the Appalachian Trail (2,184 miles) as well as the Camino de Santiago (just over 500 miles through France and Spain). She is an avid outdoorswoman and is happiest when surrounded by nature.

"My mission is to be of service wherever there be a need," said Bert. This belief has taken her to nearly every corner of the planet, leading community projects in Mexico, facilitating outdoor education programs in Thailand, and even starting an English school for Buddhist nuns in Myanmar. "I sometimes worry that my career resembles an odd hopscotch game, but the common thread amongst these opportunities has been my desire to help others and learn about their respective communities. No matter where I go, I hope to never stop learning and helping others."

Bert has chosen international disaster relief charity ShelterBox to be the recipient of all funds raised. In spite of the global pandemic, they are continuing to provide emergency shelter and supplies to families displaced by disaster and conflict to help protect them from the disease.

Shelter is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19. ShelterBox is working with partners in places like Syria, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ethiopia, finding new ways to tackle the challenges and adapt to changing circumstances during this pandemic. The emergency shelter they provide enables social distancing by helping to move families out of overcrowded collective centers and reduce the risk of transmission of the infection by providing families with personal aid items like water filters, blankets and cooking sets. Their teams are customizing their standard aid packages to include soap and handwashing basins and they have modified their distribution practices by distributing to smaller groups, encouraging social distancing, and using personal protective equipment. In some responses, they have a healthcare representative at the distribution to promote health and hygiene practices.

Learn more and learn how you can be involved by visiting her website at, or by contacting her directly via email: [email protected] Bert and her team are inviting Rotary Clubs, Scouts and other service organizations to join her in raising money and summiting peaks.

About Brittney

Brittney Woodrum is currently earning a master's degree in Humanitarian Assistance at the University of Denver. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a focus in Nonprofit Administration and Spanish and over the past four years has put her education to good use, working for a variety of NGOs across the globe. In her free time, Bert enjoys studying languages, cycling, and hiking.

About ShelterBox

Since 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth, and dignity following more than 300 disasters in over 100 countries. ShelterBox responds urgently to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami, or conflict by delivering boxes of essential shelter, aid and other lifesaving supplies. Each iconic green ShelterBox contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, a water filtration system, emergency lighting, and other tools for survival. ShelterBox USA is based in Santa Barbara, Calif.

ShelterBox is an official Project Partner of Rotary International. Tax deductible donations to the organization can be made at or by calling (907) 854-0901.


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