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Volunteers to stock 'Hygiene Closet' for students

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program gives food to hungry families in America.

Recipients can use SNAP benefits to purchase fruits, vegetables, meats, breads and more. However, the benefits cannot be used to purchase hygienic items like toilet paper or toothpaste, only food. Fairfield Middle School teacher Lisa Greenig has seen there is an unmet need for these supplies in the district, and is setting out to change that.

Greenig has begun collecting money for a program she calls the “Hygiene Closet.” Her goal is to collect enough items to make 250 hygiene kits that will be discretely given to students in need.

The kits will include the following items: dish soap, laundry soap, dryer softener sheets, bar bath soap, shampoo/conditioner, toilet paper, shaving cream, disposable razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and feminine products. She hopes they will also include items such as tweezers, nail clippers, hair brushes, hair gel/mousse, hand soap, hair ties, band aids, lotion, face wash, cotton balls, Q-tips and baby wipes.

“During this time of year, you become aware of the needs around you, and you want to bless others,” Greenig said.

Greenig has envisioned two ways in which the kits will be given out. One way is for someone at each building to put the kits in students’ lockers while they’re in class. That way, the student body doesn’t know who is getting a kit and who is not. Staci Wright will take on that responsibility at the high school.

The plan is to distribute the kits to students according to a list of families in need, and then after that, to allow parents to request the kits.

“We’ll give the kits no questions asked,” Greenig said.

The other way they will be distributed will be to have the kits in closets at the school, where students can pick them up if they need them.

More than 50 percent of students in the district are eligible for free and reduced lunches. Almost 14 percent of the county’s population is food insecure, including 1 in 5 youths.

“Kids deal with the emotional stress of poverty,” Greenig said. “We want them to have one less thing to worry about.”

Hygiene can affect how students interact with each other. Greenig said it’s not necessarily a source of bullying, but she does notice that students are reluctant to partner with certain kids because of their hygiene. That’s the sort of thing she hopes to end with this program.

Greenig shared the idea of creating the Hygiene Closet with her staff a month ago, and it met with tremendous support. She posted her idea on social media, too. Several people chimed in asking how they could help, including Fairfield Hy-Vee.

Fairfield Hy-Vee store director Lindsey Flanigan and assistant store director Abbey Bogner called Greenig to see what they could do. Greenig asked if she could set up a table on Saturday, Dec. 8, inside the store to request donations and tell patrons what her charity was all about. Flanigan and Bogner said Hy-Vee would match the donations she raised up to $500. Greenig ended up raising $560.80, so with the extra $500 from Hy-Vee, she has raised $1,060.80.

JoDee Kyle and Greenig staffed the booth early in the day, and then FMS staff took over manning it after them. The FMS staffers who worked were DeeAnn Lantz, Becky Thompson, Cathy Kaska, Sara Setterstrom and

Heather Miller.

Those who wish to donate to the fund can drop off a donation at the middle school, high school or at the Hy-Vee customer service counter.

For more questions, contact Greenig at lisa.greenig@fairfieldsfuture.org.