Philanthropy: Not Just Tourists

A retired couple turns tourists into humanitarians.
Photograph by Emily J. Davis

A family trip to Zimbabwe and a desire to connect on a deeper level to the communities they visit inspired Carl and Tara Eaton to start the first U.S. chapter of Canadian-based Not Just Tourists in 2018. By encouraging travelers to hand-deliver suitcases of medical supplies, the Eatons help clinics in developing countries and reduce the amount of excess medical supplies going to U.S. landfills. Four years later, the operation has expanded to include medical and humanitarian missions, shipped 6,000 pounds of supplies to Ukraine, and assisted in starting five more U.S. chapters. “It’s simple,” Tara Eaton says. “Surplus supplies in donated suitcases and voilà! You’ve changed a life.” 


Most suitcases taken by one group of O.C.’s Not Just Tourists travelers on a single trip


Number of countries receiving suitcases from the Orange County branch 


Number of clinics the chapter has served 


Pounds of medical supplies delivered to clinics by O.C. travelers


Financial donations received. Donations of supplies, suitcases, storage space, volunteers, and travelers are accepted instead.

How to Help

  1. Complete the form at or contact the Eatons at
  2. Pick up the supply-filled suitcase from a designated volunteer. 
  3. Check the bag. A fee might apply if you are over the airline’s bag limit.
  4. Retrieve the suitcase. It does not need to be declared, but if someone asks, the suitcase contains an explanatory letter. 
  5. Deliver the suitcase to a clinic. The group can assist with arrangements.