Local Volunteers Help Neighbors in Need This Holiday Season



This morning about 100 volunteers came to Direct Relief International’s warehouse to assemble 3,000 Personal Care Packs for local people in need. Direct Relief’s Personal Care Packs contain basic hygiene items like lotion, soap, shampoo, facial cleanser, hairbrushes, combs, tooth brushes, tooth paste, dental hygiene items, basic first aid supplies and other assorted toiletries. Volunteers of all ages helped pack the kits, including students from nearby schools, employees from locally-based companies, members of UCSB fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and members of the local women’s group, the Soroptomists.

Ellen Bonning, a second grade teacher at Crane Country Day School, has been bringing her students to Direct Relief’s packing days for six years.

“They just love it,” she said. “It’s an easy thing for them to do and they’re so proud of how many packages they are able to fill.” Ms. Bonning enjoys how the packing day presents an opportunity for students to actively participate in something bigger than themselves. “It engages them, they feel good about it, they get a little competitive, and they have so much fun,” she said. “That’s the best part.”

The Personal Care Packs assembled today will be delivered to families through over 32 social service agencies throughout Santa Barbara County.

Allie, an 8th grade student at Marymount School, said her favorite part of the packing day was being able to help people who may not have essential items to get them through the holidays. “It’s a great feeling getting to know we made an impact,” she said. Her classmate, Lena, agreed: “It’s really good to know that you’re helping the community, because even though we have all our necessities, there are some people struggling with that.”

A Direct Relief tradition for the past 20 years, personal care packs are assembled and distributed twice a year, during the summer months and the holiday season, with the goal of assembling 3,000 packs each season for individuals living in Santa Barbara County. Today, volunteers assembled 2,000 family packs and 1,000 men’s packs.  In total, the packs from both the August and December packing days help an estimated 22,000 people annually.

Francesca from Montesorri Center School said it’s important to help other people. “They’re just like us,” she explained. “There’s nothing different, we’re all people. And it’s important that we’re helping them get the basic needs.”



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