Personal Care Packs Help Families in Need

A family receives a Direct Relief personal care pack at Transition House in Santa Barbara.

In August, Direct Relief’s warehouse was full of volunteers  working to assemble Personal Care Packs filled with basic hygiene items for people in need living in Santa Barbara. Once the packs were boxed up and ready to go, they were distributed to 32 social service agencies throughout Santa Barbara County, including, churches, clinics, transitional houses, and schools.

Each local partner uses and distributes the packs differently. Andy Ceron of Cleveland Elementary School gave the packs he picked up to families of kids who are homeless or in transition homes. “The families really appreciate it,” he said.

Transition House, a family homeless shelter in Santa Barbara, hands out items from the packs to families that live there. Mike Zaragoza, Operations Director of Transition House, said that the house plans on sorting the items and giving the families what they need. They also keep some of the packs in the medical office to give to patients.

Some of the organizations that receive packs use the products to stock up on hygiene items to improve the health and quality of life of individuals they serve. The Jessie Hopkins Hinchee Foundation, a nonprofit that houses 12 people with developmental disabilities, uses all the products to bath the patients, brush their teeth and make sure they stay healthy. All of the residents at the house are dependent and must rely on the staff for hygiene needs.

“We are happy when we hear that Direct Relief’s Personal Care Packs are ready; the packs helps keep the house running,” said Tammy Weffler, the house’s House Manager.

The cost of providing high quality care to Jessie Hopkins Hinchee Foundation’s residents exceeds the needed income each month. According to Weffler, their budget has been cut by 10%, which equates to $46,000. Money for essential supplies, like those provided in the Personal Care Packs, is hard to come by. The Personal Care Packs ensure that the house has basic supplies, such as brushes, toothpaste, and shampoo. “We haven’t had to buy lotion since last year,” said Tammy.

Casa Esperanza, a homeless shelter in Santa Barbara, both hands out full packs and uses products to help with the shelter’s maintenance. The shelter puts aside some of the packs to hand out to individuals and families who walk through the door. They break up the remaining bags and use those products for their showers and first-aid station.

“The bandages are a big help for our nursing program,” said John Bowlin, Volunteer Coordinator for Casa Esperanza. Without the donation of the Personal Care Packs, Bowlin explained that Casa Esperanza would probably not have enough funds to buy supplies and support the 100 individuals that are housed there.“We survive on the donations we receive.”

Direct Relief assembles the Personal Care Packs twice a year, once in August and once in December. Each year, the packs help an estimated 22,000 people within Santa Barbara County.

To learn more about how you help, email Martha at mangeles@directrelief.org and ask about volunteering at Direct Relief’s next Personal Care Packing day.

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