NEW ALBANY — A Southern Indiana nonprofit that serves families and children is bolstering its offerings by providing necessary cleaning, baby and personal hygiene items to those who need them this summer.
Throughout July and August or while supplies last, Marie’s Community Distribution Program, part of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany, will be giving away things like cleaning supplies and toiletries, through a $15,000 Metro United Way grant.
The new program is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the organization’s 7th Street location in New Albany. Families or individuals who can use the items — which include diapers, baby wipes, food and formula, disinfectant spray and self-hygiene supplies — can visit once a month and fill out a form selecting the items they want, and a volunteer fills the order on site.
Erin Goodlett, social services director at St. Elizabeth said the special summer program came out of a need staff and volunteers were seeing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one that remains important as health and more thorough cleaning practices have taken a front seat.
Throughout the past year, the nonprofit noted that while a lot of the basic needs were being provided for through other community partners — for things like food and rental assistance — no one was providing those essential everyday items one might not have access to.
“This was our way of meeting the additional need that somebody might have after the pandemic,” Goodlett said. Staff will adjust the supply purchases as the weeks go on if it is determined that certain items might be more in demand.
“If disinfectant wipes or toilet paper is the item, then we potentially could make sure that we always have that in stock,” Dawn Bennett, development director with St. Elizabeth said.
Visitors for the special summer program can also take advantage of the regular support Marie’s provides. Families who need them them can once monthly pick items like diapers, cribs, car seats, household items and children’s clothing, which is arranged by age and size in the distribution room.
Bennett said they often get calls from people who say “’I’m starting over; I have nothing,’” she said. “So we really want to be able to provide whatever that may be. We have the furniture and some of the goods, and we definitely refer out to Hope Southern Indiana that has the food pantry and Salvation Army. Everybody pretty much has their niche but this is some additional support because who doesn’t need toilet paper?”
For the last fiscal year, Marie’s served 614 families or individuals — 136 of them who had not used the service before.
“Each month clients become almost like a regular and they have different needs,” Goodlett said. She said in some cases, they’ll get calls from other community agencies who may request help on behalf of a client, saying things like “’this is crucial for them, they just got their child back and don’t even have a car seat, can you help me?’” Goodlett said, adding “That’s what we’re here for. I know that whenever they have no place to turn to get those needs in a crisis or if they need something to get them through until the next paycheck and they’re short on diapers, that’s what we’re here for.”
Often those who have received help through St. Elizabeth, including the residential programs for women and families, are able to give back, helping others who find themselves in need.
“I’ve taken phone calls from former residents [who] as they were getting back started on their own they came to get things from Marie’s,”Bennett said. “But as they’ve landed on their feet they call back and say ‘OK I’ve got all of my kids clothes and I’ve got some diapers, can I drop them back off? I want to give back.’”