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tutorial: Home Loss Box

Written By: Word Nerd - Oct• 19•11

Today’s tutorial will be a departure from the norm.  This is a project that I hope you will never have any need to undertake, a gift I hope you never receive.


Last Saturday, we received a call from my aunt to inform us she was standing in her yard, looking at the charred remains of her home.  All human family members and one four legged friend were safe, but nothing else escaped the fast moving fire.  Sadly, several other pets were lost.

Red Cross had shown up shortly after the rescue crews and set them up with two nights in a nearby hotel and a debit card with which to cover immediate needs.  They also provided a packet of helpful information.  However, since my aunt lost her glasses in the fire, she could not read it!  The information was read to her, but it was not processing– she needed the information broken into small, easy to handle chunks.

Desperately wishing for a way to make things seem more managble, the idea for the Home Loss Box was born.  This is something that can be put together quickly for anyone who suddenly finds themself displaced, through fire, flood or other disaster.  I now have a folder with the printed sheets on hand so that I am ready to grab and go when a friend is in need.

How to build a Home Loss Box:

To a sturdy container (such as a Rubbermaid box, or a plastic file box), add the “memory jogger” list list, a spiral or steno notebook, 3 ring binder with divider tabs and sleeves, receipt keeper, pens/pencils and calculator. For each family member include a copy of the individual inventory list.

Include 1-3 large trash bags with a note asking for them to bundle up the clothes they were wearing for you. Take the clothes and attempt to clean and remove smoke smell.  Keep in mind that those clothes may be all that remains of their possessions—even if they are in bad shape, having them “saved” by cleaning may bring a little peace of mind.

The next part will vary a little depending on the family.  You will want to include a basic first aid kit that includes some over the counter medications, especially ibuprofen and antacids.  If they have infants or children, include those versions as well.  Add some “pixie dust” to the box, based on their likes and family make-up: gum, candy, coloring books/crayons, small toys, card games, nail polish, plush socks, books/magazines, etc…  You may be tempted to skip this step for adults—please don’t!  Never underestimate
the power of mindless distraction in times of stress.

I would also include a Bible and/or devotional book germane to the recipients’ religious preference.

And, lastly, if the family is being housed in a hotel, throw in a roll of quarters for the snack/drink machines.

Imagine being dropped in completely alien territory and being told to find your way home.  Now imagine the same scenario, but with a map and basic supplies to get you to the main road.  That is what the Home Loss Box is supposed to be- the map and basic supplies to help get the affected to the main road where they can find their way home. 

We link to these fine parties.

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