SEYMOUR, Wis. — The Family Radio Network just held its 27th annual Help for the Homeless Hygiene Drive. 900 businesses, churches and schools in Northeast and Central Wisconsin set-up collection boxes for three weeks. Now, thousands of donations of personal care and cleaning items will soon get into the hands of those who desperately need it.
On Tuesday, at St. John's in Seymour, volunteers with four local crisis agencies were counting and sorting the donated soap, toothbrushes, feminine products and more. They'll pass those items on to their clients.
"If you don't take a shower and you don't use deodorant, what's the likelihood you're going to get that job you're applying for? So, it's those simple things that can help to get to the next level," said Juli Meulemans.
Meulemans is with Community 2000 Emergency Relief Services, a program operated by Valley Packaging Industries, funded in part by the United Way Fox Cities.
"Our ultimate goal is to help better the family. We don't want to be a band-aid," she explained.
The organization provides food, clothing, household and personal care items for those living in poverty. They also connect their clients to other resources in the community. Bethany Freman's family receives assistance from the organization.
"It's definitely been a help. It's been like that third leg that helps you like get where you need to be," she said.
Community 2000 is one of the 89 local crisis programs receiving donations this year from the Help for the Homeless Hygiene Drive.
"The Family Radio came up with this as an idea. There's nothing tangible in an idea. It's an idea, and it doesn't happen unless people receive that and take action," explained Heidi Prahl, Donor and Community Relations for The Family Radio Network.
"The support that we get from the community and the volunteers is substantial," said Meulemans. "There's no way we could do anything for these families without it."
Families, like Freman's, are thankful for the helping hand.
"I'm really grateful because It's a little bit less of a weight off our backs, and it makes home a little less stressful."
All the donations stay in the 15 communities where they were collected. The Seymour-area's donations were divided up between Community 2000, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and the Seymour Food Pantry who will distribute them to their clients.
To date, nearly $3 million worth of items have been donated through the Help for the Homeless Hygiene Drive. The goal is to provide the partner agencies with a year's supply of products, so they can use their limited funds on other necessities like providing quality staff and services.