We all understand the life requisites of food, clothing and shelter. But those who struggle to maintain those critical needs may find themselves unable to afford basics many of us take for granted; hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products and other personal products.
This #GivingTuesday, Dec. 2, United Way of Greater Cleveland is spearheading a movement to provide these crucial basics for our community members in need.
Michael Sering, is vice president of housing & shelter for Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM). The ministry serves people who are oppressed, forgotten and hurting, including individuals who are homeless, unemployed and involved in the criminal justice system and individuals with behavioral health, guardianship and life-skill needs. Sering emphasizes that hygiene items go well beyond appearance and vanity concerns.
“Personal hygiene items are critical for the people who are temporarily living at shelters, like our Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside,” Sering said. “Most of the residents do not have money to purchase those items so donations are critical. An inability to care for one’s self can lead to low self-esteem, lack of motivation and even depression. Meanwhile a person who looks and feels confident can have a sense of normalcy and is likely to become empowered and self-sufficient more quickly. This includes being sharp and performing well at job interviews, during training classes, while interacting with volunteers and during a housing search. Personal hygiene donations go a long way to help someone along their path from crisis to stability.”
Jill Rizika, executive director, Towards Employment, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment, builds individual skills and confidence, removes barriers to employment and helps individuals meet employers’ workforce needs.
“Helping individuals move from poverty to paycheck must include making sure basic needs are addressed,” Rizka said. “For a person to have a successful job interview, they have to be neatly dressed and groomed. There is nothing like the increased confidence seen in our graduates after receiving a new interview-appropriate suit! We make sure our students have all the tools they need, from toothbrushes to bus passes, to ensure their success in getting and keeping a job and advancing into a career.”
Those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamp program) are prohibited by federal law from using SNAP to purchase soap and toiletry items and must obtain them through community providers such as food pantries.
Stephen Wertheim, COO of the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, emphasized the critical need for basic toiletries.
“A major share of our funding comes from the federal government, which will only allow us to purchase food items. People come to food pantries, especially with children, and need diapers, toilet paper, even paper towels,” he said. “Only through private donations can we provide these basics.
“When you go to Giant Eagle for a normal shopping trip, half your cart is probably toiletries and personal items. Imagine sending a young child to school who doesn’t have soap, or toothpaste or a toothbrush. Those basics are so very important to their ability to learn. On a job interview, one has to represent one’s self well and these items are very important.”
Your #GivingTuesday donation will be used to purchase these critical hygiene items for those in our community who are working toward independence and stability. The basic needs items will be distributed to our community in partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. To learn more and to give now, visit GivingTuesdayCLE.org.