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Direct Relief Volunteers Pack 3,000 Care Kits for Neighbors in Need

Direct Relief volunteers add toiletries to Personal Care Packs that will be delivered to families and individuals in need through 32 social service agencies throughout Santa Barbara County.
Direct Relief volunteers add toiletries to Personal Care Packs that will be delivered to families and individuals in need through 32 social service agencies throughout Santa Barbara County.  (Jay Farbman photo)

Hundreds of volunteers of all ages from the Santa Barbara area came to Direct Relief on Tuesday and Wednesday to assemble 3,000 Personal Care Packs for people in need in Santa Barbara County.

“It is such a rewarding thing to be able to help other people,” longtime volunteer Sandra Williams said.

Direct Relief’s Personal Care Packs contain basic hygiene items like lotion, soap, facial cleanser, hairbrushes, combs, tooth brushes, tooth paste, dental hygiene items, and other assorted toiletries. They are delivered to families and individuals in need through 32 social service agencies throughout Santa Barbara County, such as Casa Esperanza Homeless Center.

“These hygiene kits are life-changing, they’re resources that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Jessica Wishan, managing director of the agency that helps people move from homelessness to housing. “For Direct Relief to be giving resources in their own backyard and helping decrease homelessness makes a world of a difference.”

Casa Esperanza’s volunteer coordinator, J.B. Bowlin, said hygiene items like those in the packs are needed year-round, but have a special meaning at this time of year.

“These packs will be great because it will come at a time right before the holiday season … they make [the recipients] feel better about themselves and build up their spirits,” he said.

But the recipients aren’t the only ones who benefit from the packs. Many of the volunteers who came out to help said they were thrilled to be able to give back to people in their community.

“It really makes life worthwhile to be able to give back and help other people," Williams said. "We’re all so fortunate and yet we don’t realize it. I think it’s our responsibility to help others."

This program is made possible by products donated from Chattem Inc., Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Prestige Brands, and Sappo Hill Soapworks as well as generous support from Chumash Casino, Trader Joe’s of Goleta, the Union Pacific Foundation and the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.

Click here to watch a message of thanks from the Casa Esperanza staff to the volunteers who packed the kits that help their clients. Click here to view more photos from the event.

— Hannah Rael is a communications associate for Direct Relief.

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