When we run to the store for groceries, our shopping carts often contain more than just food. There’s toilet paper and laundry soap, cleaning supplies and mouthwash, disposable diapers, toothpaste, razors, and deodorant, and dozens of other items which are essential day to day needs.
Those receiving food stamps however, can’t use their food stamps to purchase any of these items. For families living in poverty, shampoo, tooth paste and toilet paper are often unaffordable luxuries.
How can you help?
Many families living in poverty visit local direct distribution sites called food pantries to supplement their food stamp allotment. These food pantries provide the poor with not only groceries, but also basic toiletry items as they are available. Donating these sorts of items directly to a food pantry helps to fill this very important need.
What sort of things can be donated?
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss are the most asked for personal hygiene items by food pantry clients. If you are a regular food bank donor, why not throw in a couple of these items with your regular donations? Better yet, if you have an “in” with a dentist or dentist supply house, perhaps you could coordinate a regular monthly donation of these basic health care needs.
Shampoo, bar soap, and deodorant are also high on the list of toiletry needs. While many food pantries do receive some one-use sample size toiletry products, full size shampoo jars and bar soap donations are pretty rare. Razor blades, plastic combs, and packages of Band-aids are also very much appreciated by our clients.
Disposable diapers and diaper wipes are another requested item. Low income mothers of newborns often receive free diapers through local charities; mothers of toddler aged children do not. For a single working mother on a minimum wage salary, $30 for a box of disposable diapers is a significant chunk of her weekly paycheck. The most requested sizes seem to be sizes 3, 4 and 5 with most asking for standard diapers rather than “pull up” styles.
The next time you run across a deal on toilet paper, why not grab a few extra packages to donate? Toilet paper is one of those products that everyone should have ~ but sadly, not everyone can afford.
Laundry and dish washing soap are other two essential items that many families must do without. Instead of donating one super sized tub, why not donate a case of the smaller sized units instead? This allows pantry volunteers to distribute soap to many more families.
Your donations of these basic items provides low income families with personal care products and cleaning essentials, that many of us couldn’t imagine being without. The next time you bring a bag of groceries to your local food pantry, won’t you consider adding a few toiletry items to your donation? For a listing of food pantries in your area, visit the home web page of your state’s Food Bank network or call them for the address of the pantry nearest you.