Thursday Night at the Shelter: The Hygiene Products edition

After her first ever massage, Dani and I wheeled some goodies down to the shelter for runaway supposedly-gay teens that we’ve been supporting with our “shop for free” habits for the past few months. It was a good bunch last night.

First off, the big teddybear kid who loves to cook offered me some of the chicken dish he’d made that night – I was really touched. Then he spied one of the Ban solid deodorants in my wheelie bag of goodies and asked if he could have the Powder Fresh scent. Everyone’s little ears perked up and they came racing over. That usually only happens when I show up with chocolate or super-sugary cereal (and we were unloading plenty of both!) but this time, upon confirming that I had a big bag of deodorants, shouted “She brought us HYGIENE PRODUCTS!!”, they converged. I had dropped off 10 deodorants on my visit last week and 15 two weeks before that, but I guess it’s a never-ending need. Now, I know they’re all supposedly gay, but still, I thought it was funny that they all wanted the women’s deodorants rather than the Red Zone or Right Guard.

The Lump who supervises the shelter once again took no notice of our existence (hence the moniker). She’s leaving this job next week, which might explain why there has been no wish list put out in nearly 3 months. So as we handed out deodorants and candy – and made one young lady extremely happy with a bottle of Tresemme hairspray – we picked their brains for what they they needed:  washcloths, shampoo (they have, like, 8 bottles of nasty conditioner and 1 bottle of shampoo), toothbrushes and kitchen knives. Now, Dani and I had been bringing toothbrushes in dribs and drabs, and there were at least a dozen of them in an unsorted box of toiletries in a cabinet that the kids were not allowed to go into, under threat of eviction. As I’d suspected, The Lump really didn’t notice or care as much as she once did, otherwise we wouldn’t have had a bunch of 17-year-old boys clamoring for toothbrushes, of all the crazy little things, when there were plenty on hand. Next week I’ll be trying to work the Walgreens deal on Roots of Nature hair products. It’s a line specifically for African hair, and most of the shelter kids are mixed-race. And I may post a request on Freecycle for knife donations on behalf of the shelter.

So what did I buy and bring? 7 full-size boxes of cereal (Post & Kelloggs), 8 full-size and 6 travel-size deodorants, 6 bottles of Ken’s salad dressing, 1 bottle of French’s mustard, 12 bags of CVS-brand Goobers, Band-aids, 5 packs of J&J gauze pads and tape, 8 trial size bottles of Head & Shoulders, Excedrin, Tresemme hairspray, and a half-gallon of milk (always a crowd pleaser). How much did it cost? Shelf price: $136; Sale price: $97; Out-of-pocket after coupons/rebates/recycled “bucks back”/etc: $4.40. What’s that, half a pack of cigarettes? And I have more store credit (“bucks back”) than I started with.


5 Responses

  1. That is really sweet. How touching!! And to think that a toothbrush or deodorant would make someone SO happy..

  2. that IS really sweet!!! these kids are going to remember you FOREVER. thank you for all you are doing!!

  3. Wow, Kate! I know you’re really good with the coupon deals, but giving back to the shelter like that totally made you a rock star to me! Hehe. That’s an awesome thing you’re doing and I sincerely hope the next person to fill the Lump’s position is a caring person who can help give y’all a sense of what’s needed there. It sounds like you made those kids super happy, but I don’t understand why they couldn’t have the toothbrushes and other toiletries that are already there. Is that a shelter rule, or the lady who’s quitting?

    I’ve said it before, but I really need to get on this coupon game, if not for myself, then for the satisfaction of donating to a great cause. Truly inspiring!

    • There’s a cabinet behind the admin desk that holds all the toiletries and OTC meds, and between self-preservation and substance abuse issues, the kids aren’t allowed in there. And because The Lump is completely lacking in interest (though apparently taht wasn’t always the case), she doesn’t even know what’s in there. So if a kid asks for a toothbrush, she thinks they don’t have any because she has no clue what’s in the box of random goodies and isn’t inspired to find out. Dani & I have high hopes for the new administrator.

  4. You are inspiring! I agree with JPT-the difference you are making in the lives of these young people immeasurable, and is something they will never forget… Thank you for what you are doing! I really enjoy reading your blog!

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