United Way Women's Initiative and Emmanuel's Closet team up to provide the little necessities of life.
Sometimes it's the little things in life that can mean the most – shampoo, hygiene products, new underwear and socks.
The United Way Flagler Women's Initiative and Emmanuel's Closet have some definite ideas on how to provide these items that most of us take for granted.
“Brandi (Fowler, founder of Emmanuel's Closet) reached out to me and the Women's Initiative, to see how we could work together,” Linda Sanders, president of the United Way Flagler Women's Initiative, said. “What she is doing at Emmanuel's Closet is exceptional, but we thought we could do something in addition to that.”
The groups have begun collecting hotel-size shampoos, lotions, and soaps. They are also looking for donations of new underwear, socks, female personal hygiene items, and even – crackers.
“We stuff the bags with these items,” Fowler said. “We include anything that could be a blessing to a homeless person, families in transition, and also a foster child who may have been taken from their home in the middle of the night and has nothing but the clothes on their back.”
The ladies want to get the business community involved.
Currently, only MOSS Organic Salon and Alliance Financial have donation boxes at their businesses. Sanders and Fowler said they are hoping other businesses will get involved, and be willing to put donation boxes in their offices.
“That's what we really need now, the businesses,” Sanders said. “Help us help the community by making a space to put the box up.”
The organizations will stuff the bags with the donated items, and information about agencies in Flagler County available to help those in transition.
“We will distribute the filled bags to all of the missions and agencies that can use them in Flagler County,” Sanders said. “Initially we plan to fill more than 500 bags.”
Nearly everyone who travels, packs the small shampoos and bathroom items in their luggage before they check out. Never used, the items not only sit in bathroom cabinets at home -- the collection is usually added to with each trip.
Sanders isn't shy about asking for extra items when staying in a hotel.
On a trip to Philadelphia she liked the hotel shampoo, and left a note asking housekeeping if they could leave a couple extra for her to share with her community.
“I came back that night and there were two big bags filled,” Sanders said. “When I checked out, I told them I didn't want to get the woman in trouble, but I was so touched. They said, 'Oh no, she won't get in trouble – we will give her kudos for it.'”
While samples are accepted for the gallon-size bags, any size is appreciated. Full size toiletry and hygiene items will be used for families.
“The underwear and feminine hygiene items are the tougher things to get,” Fowler said.
Sanders said her goal as president of the Women's Initiative this year is to create networks and partnerships with different agencies to provide a broader community outreach.
“There are so many amazing missions in Flagler County,” Sanders said. “Our goal is to start working together, closer than we ever have before, so we are not all duplicating efforts. There is something about the power of women helping women, and collectively impacting the community.”