Typically, the United Methodist Women of Newton's Trinity Heights United Methodist Church do a number of charitable events over the course of the year — such as the annual bazaar in November, with proceeds going to various local organizations, including CASA, Meals on Wheels and EmberHope.
Usually, those activities are one-off events, but the Trinity Heights UMW started a new ongoing project in 2018 — beginning a donation drive to help provide hygiene kits to Safehope, a domestic violence shelter in town.
"We figured this would be a good thing for women and children in the local area," said Trinity Heights UMW member Lorraine Richards.
Quarterly, with the help of the Trinity Heights congregation, the UMW spearhead a donation drive collecting items or money for the hygiene kits, which cost about $25 each. Kits include standard hygiene items, such as lotion, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, bar soap, razors, shaving cream, wet wipes and deodorant.
Not only does that fit with the UMW mission — acting on behalf of women, children and youths — but it also meets a clear need, as both the Trinity Heights UMW and Safehope shelter coordinator Heather Boswell have seen.
"There's a big demand for them. They would like us to do more than what we are, but we do it by donations we receive from the members here," said Trinity Heights UMW member Dee Schroeder.
"For someone coming into a situation where they may not have any of those items and may not have had those items for several days at that point, that is a huge thing to hand them those kits," Boswell said. "To see that the community cares about them, cares that they're clean, they feel supported and that they're able to take care of themselves is a pretty big deal."
Given the reaction the UMW has seen since the donation efforts started, it's clear they would be missed, but they have no intention of stopping.
Recent donations brought the total kits contributed in 2019 to 28, according to Richards, though she still clearly remembers the first delivery of 50 kits (25 for adults and 25 for children) in 2018 — an act that resonated because they saw how quickly they were put to use.
"When they (clients) come into the shelter, they're each given one of those kits," Boswell said. "They do it for adults, they do it for kids and they do it for babies."
Seeing the impact that has on children — and anyone, really — is what Richards said has drawn her to work with the UMW and assist in its mission, through acts like the hygiene kit donation drive and more. She also pointed out that anyone is welcome to join in those efforts.
"Come join us. We're open to anybody. We accept all kinds of help," Richards said.
Having that financial support from the community makes a big impact, Boswell said. Like Richards, she noted the organization welcomes help from anywhere and anyone. Those seeking to get involved with a group already working on a hygiene kit donation project can contact Safehope at 283-0350 to find out the shelter's current needs and how to volunteer their services.