The project was conceived by Shawna Suckow, CMP, founder of SPIN (Senior Planners Industry Network) and Colleen Abernethy, owner of Platinum DMC Collection. “We were planning a trip to Nepal in 2013, and heard of a doctor there who offers an annual eye clinic in a remote area and needed used prescription eyeglasses,” says Suckow. “Through Colleen’s connection with the Lion’s Club, we brought a suitcase filled with over 200 pairs with us.”
“The feeling that overcame us after we met the doctor and left with that empty suitcase was so gratifying,” said Abernethy. “Sometimes it feels better coming home with an empty suitcase rather than a full one.”
Suckow and Abernethy joined forces with Barbara Scofidio, editor of Prevue magazine, and Doug Chorpenning, planner and founder of Wet Paint Creative Group to officially launch the project.
“The web site is self-perpetuating,” said Chorpenning, “with suppliers and planners providing lists of items needed all around the world, and then sharing their success stories to inspire other planners.”
Scofidio says the initiative fills a need that emerged as companies have cut the length of meetings and incentive trips and planners. “It’s challenging to fit an element of giving back into an already packed two- or three-day program. Sometimes even a half day spent volunteering at a local school or playground is just too much time. That’s where the Empty Suitcase Campaign can help.