Santa Barbara County’s picturesque scenery and ideal climate can paint an incomplete picture of the challenges many residents face.
In stark contrast to its wealthy enclaves, almost 14 percent of residents live below the poverty line, while the region’s homeless shelters often reach capacity and, at certain north county schools, over 90 percent of students qualify for subsidized or free lunches.
In an effort to address needs around the county and strengthen communities in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Guadalupe, Santa Ynez, Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, local groups have united to provide a full range of essential services.
Direct Relief works on an international scale, but remains dedicated to helping vulnerable people wherever they are. That includes here.
Since 1994, Direct Relief has supported Santa Barbara organizations that serve tens of thousands of individuals in need –schools, homeless shelters, medical providers, youth organizations, counseling centers, and more.
Twice a year, representatives from these organizations travel to Direct Relief to collect personal care kits for families in need. The kits contain non-prescription items such as toothpaste, soap, lotion, towels, deodorant and floss. While basic, these items can mean a lot to somebody who has to make tradeoffs to pay rent or afford groceries.
Breanna Casas, a case manager at New Beginnings Counseling Center in Santa Barbara, CA, expressed in a recent interview the impact of these kits from Direct Relief. Homeless individuals visit the center “so excited to have personal care products” that improve their cleanliness and hygiene.
A total of 37 local nonprofit organizations that serve homeless and low-income individuals and families visited the Direct Relief Goleta warehouse to collect hygiene kits.