HELENA — The rush to stock up on toilet paper might have ended, but many people still struggle to get personal care items they need.
Located inside the Good Samaritan Thrift Store in Helena, the Placer Pantry supplies full-size hygiene items to people in need for free. They are fully supported and staffed by the GFWC Women’s Club and Soroptimist International of Helena.
Each month, they give out on average more than 1,000 items, ranging from tooth brushes and laundry detergent to razors and dish soap.
The store is open twice per week: Tuesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 to 11 a.m.
According to data from the team of volunteers who runs the pantry, in 2019 they gave out 17,401 items. In the first two months of 2020, they gave out 2,688 items, before coronavirus restrictions were put in place.
Though the pantry has existed in some form since 2012, leaders like Melissa Domme and Joyce DeCunzo say the amount of clients is growing.
“A lot of people we see are low income families, elderly people that are living only on social security, that just need a little bit of help,” said Domme, the president of Soroptimist International of Helena.
While many people may take a bottle of shampoo for granted, it’s an items that can pinch an already-tight budget for some families in the Capital City.
“People want to be clean, personable, they want to be prepared to go out of their houses,” said DeCunzo, a member of the Placer Pantry planning committee. “If you send your kids out to school without brushing their teeth, or you need to go and try to find a job, and you can't wash your hair, that's a real problem.”
This weekend, there is an opportunity to help pack the Placer Pantry. On June 13th and 14th, they are collecting donations of full-size items in the Dollar Tree parking lot near Good Samaritan. You can drop them off from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. There is also a need for cash donations.
Their wish list includes: laundry soap, bar soap, facial tissue, paper towels, tampons, pads, toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, tooth paste, tooth brushes, denture products, dish soap, lotion, disposable razors, and shave cream.
For more information, check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/189325948983643/