Common pantry donations often include canned goods, bags of rice, and other non-perishable items.
Yet when a family is faced with a crisis, their daily needs go beyond food. They may lack the means to prepare the meals they receive from the pantry, let alone hygiene items.
Whether it’s household cleaning supplies, pots and pans, or a box of sanitary napkins, non-food donations help those in need live healthier and happier lives.
âIt’s just that people don’t think about that stuff. I mean, everyone needs toilet paper,â said Justin Bates, director of marketing and development at the River Valley Regional Food Bank.
Items such as diapers, cooking utensils, and hygiene kits can help women and children escape domestic violence.
âIf someone donated Pampers, we could donate them to a pantry that helps women, like a crisis intervention center,â Bates said.
Especially for people living in hotels, donations like new hotplates, electric kettles and microwaves make food preparation easier.
âIf you live in one of the hotels hereâ¦ you might not have anything other than an outlet,â Bates said. “Let’s say you get a pasta kit … [you] I can’t eat ramen noodles without reheating them. ”
For those wishing to donate, Bates recommends contacting the food bank, unless a local pantry has a specific shared need.
“Sometimes the pantry has no room to store things … we can store [donations] and identify a pantry that might need it, âBates said. He added that items don’t have to be in bulk, but they must be new and unused.
For more information on donating to the food bank, call 479-785-0582.
One of the food bank’s partner pantries is Helping Hand, a non-profit organization based at Grand Avenue Baptist Church.
The nonprofit has a clothes closet and a warehouse to store donations, including furniture. Volunteers are currently expanding the second floor of the warehouse to create additional storage space for clothing.
Bob Lever, executive director of Helping Hand, asked for donations of quality bedding, housewares, furniture, and men’s and women’s clothing with no holes or stains.
Describing the potential needs, Lever said, “We had some that were in bed bug infested situations, and they had to get rid of everything.”
Donations to Helping Hand can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3901 Grand Ave.
The Community Services Clearing House, which seeks to alleviate hunger in the River Valley and Oklahoma, is also seeking non-food donations.
âOne thing our customers like to get is toilet paper and paper towels, laundry detergent and dish soap,â said Aubrey Severe, office manager of the Community Services Clearinghouse.
The clearinghouse accepts donations 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 4420 Wheeler Ave.
By donating non-food items to local organizations, community members can offer more comprehensive help to their neighbors.
âIt just ties together the mission of making sure people are not only fed, but that they have a better quality of life,â Bates said.
Catherine Nolte is a member of the body of Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms. She can be contacted at [email protected]