NEWTOWN, Ohio — Troy Childs has one daughter of her own but also takes care of several other children.
Getting all of the kids the diapers and wipes they need adds up fast, not to mention the baby shampoo and body wash they go through.
Fortunately, Inter Parish Ministry is there to help. Families can shop for personal care and hygiene items at the organization’s food pantries in Newtown and Amelia during their monthly visits to pick up groceries.
“It’s like a stress reliever, kind of, having an extra support to be able to help with that,” said Childs, who works cleaning apartments and offices. “Being able to get in the shower and just, like, de-stress is an awesome thing.”
Inter Parish Ministry has offered personal care items as part of its food pantry inventories for the past five years, said president and CEO Alida Hart. Donors who felt passionate about providing hygiene products brought the first donations needed to stock the shelves, and it’s continued ever since.
“We feel at Inter Parish Ministry that the personal hygiene is a natural extension to the food we have in our pantry,” Hart said. “It really provides the essentials for our clients. After all, our mission is feeding families and nourishing souls.”
However, the personal care items are just as costly for the nonprofit to purchase as they are for the organization’s clients.
None of the shampoo, deodorant or other personal care items that the food pantries stock can be purchased using SNAP, the federal assistance program formerly known as food stamps, Hart said.
“As a result, our clients really are dependent on coming to a pantry like Inter Parish Ministry to get these products,” she said. In turn, “we really rely on donations and collection drives for our personal care items.”
That’s why Inter Parish Ministry is asking people to drop off personal care products throughout February during its Caring from the Heart campaign.
‘More confidence and dignity'
Turpin High School senior Jesse Pierce is doing her part.
Pierce is an intern at Inter Parish Ministry, where she spends the end of each school day helping out. She's focused on the hygiene initiative specifically by trying to spread the word about the need for donations, she said.
“For a really long time, I didn’t know how big of a need we had here financially in general,” Pierce said.
But after she learned more by working with Forest Hills School District’s service group 9United, Pierce said she was determined to try to help.
“There’s need everywhere,” she said. “And even if you don’t see it, it’s there. So if you’re able to just give whatever you can, there’s always a way to help, through volunteer work and donations and drives and different things that anyone can do in our community.”
Childs said she gives as much as she can, too, even though she also relies on Inter Parish to stock her household.
“I know everything runs off of the donations they get, so I try to give back as much as possible,” she said. “I send a lot of people here if they have an abundance of stuff.”
Hart said she has seen the difference personal care items can make for the people who visit Inter Parish Ministry’s food pantries.
One woman said she used diluted laundry detergent to wash her hair, and another family had all been sharing a single toothbrush. Hart was helping another woman shop when the woman’s 13-year-old girl asked her mom if she could get her own deodorant instead of sharing.
“It’s the personal self-confidence,” Hart said. “Making sure that when they leave, they’re leaving with a little more confidence and dignity because they’re able to take care of themselves.”
Personal care items can be donated to Inter Parish Ministry’s Amelia pantry from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and at the Newtown pantry from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. More information about Inter Parish Ministry is available online.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for her and for WCPO. To reach Lucy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.