This is the eighth in a weekly series of articles submitted
by the United Way of Union County that will run during the
course of its annual campaign. Each week will feature a different
United Way program. This week’s article features the
Union County Personal Needs Pantry.
Cinda Speakman took her full shopping bag and boarded the
UCATS van to head home. The 80-year old resident of the Richwood
Civic Center was one of a dozen senior citizens who made the
monthly van trip to the Union County Personal Needs Pantry
last week to stock up on cleaning supplies and bathroom necessities
such as toothpaste and deodorant.
“I’m on a limited income and any of the stuff
I get is helpful,” Speakman said. “I probably
would have to go without it until I would get my check the
first of the month.”
Speakman is one of the hundreds of individuals and families
who will utilize the United Way Member Agency this month to
supplement their own stock of personal hygiene and household
cleaning items. The Pantry provides items that can’t
be purchased with food stamps, including basic necessities
such as toilet paper, soap, shampoo, trash bags, laundry detergent,
and dish soap. What began as an outreach program of Trinity
Lutheran Church in Marysville in 2000 has become a countywide
program that serves over 400 households a month. That’s
10 times more than the 40 families a month that were helped
five years ago.
“I would say that over half of the families who utilize
the pantry are working poor,” said Barb Snodgres, a
Pantry volunteer and Task Force Member. “They have a
job, but it may be something that pays not much more than
minimum wage. A lot of them are single mothers. If there are
two adults in the family, one has typically just lost their
job. The senior citizens who use it are typically those who
are trying to live off of social security.
“I think Union County has always been perceived as
a low-unemployment area. And it is. But that has made our
cost of living higher than a lot of the surrounding areas.
So we have this group of people who are having to pay high
rent, and they don’t have the income to support it.”
The Union County Personal Needs Pantry helps those on fixed
incomes to stretch their budget, providing a modest amount
of items to get them through the month. Products typically
will not be name brand, but are most appreciated by the clients
who access the Pantry after being referred there by another
social service agency, school, church, or doctor.
“We had a lady who actually counted and knew how many
squares of toilet paper she would need to get her to the end
of the month,” Snodgres said. “She said she was
ashamed to admit that she would sometimes go into a public
restroom, pull off so many sheets of toilet paper, and stuff
them in her purse.
“There are mothers who really have to count the diapers
and be frugal with the diaper wipes,” Snodgres added.
“I’ll think about that when I’m changing
my grandson’s diapers. These mothers know the baby has
a dirty diaper, but he just has to sit in it for awhile because
they don’t have any more money and they have to make
this pack of diapers last until the end of the week. Or maybe
the baby has diaper rash and there’s no cream to put
on. It just breaks my heart because I can’t imagine
not being able to do that for the baby.”
Snodgres says that in addition to its annual United Way allocation,
the Pantry needs consistent support from the community throughout
the year to keep the shelves stocked. Both financial and actual
donations are needed. Baby items, diapers, and deodorant are
always in high-demand. The Pantry recently applied for $5,000
in emergency funding from the United Way of Union County on
top of its regular quarterly allocation to get them through
the year. But because of depleted funds, United Way was unable
to provide the grant. United Way did award a $5,000 in additional
emergency funding in 2004.
FAST FACTS ABOUT THE UNION COUNTY PERSONAL NEEDS PANTRY:
- 2005 United Way allocation was $20,000 (or 44% of its
- Is staffed entirely by volunteers.
- The Pantry stocks the following items: toothpaste, toothbrushes,
shampoo, deodorant, facial tissues, toilet paper, feminine
needs, paper towels, bleach, dish detergent, laundry soap,
baby diapers, baby wipes, trash bags, band-aids, light bulbs,
cotton balls, q-tips, hair brushes, combs, and cleaning
- The Pantry is open Tuesdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to Noon. It’s also open
on the first Thursday of every month from Noon to 2:00 p.m.
- The Pantry is located at 209 S. Oak St. in Marysville
and online at www.personalneedspantry.com