- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

HAMPTON, Iowa (AP) - Needy families in the Hampton area have a new resource for hygiene and cleaning products, thanks to a group of confirmation students at Hampton United Methodist Church.

The group of 12- and 13-year-olds came up with the idea of the Clean Up Closet after a mission trip in Cedar Rapids last July, said Pastor Corby Johnson.

The youngsters attended a poverty simulation where they learned that a family of four without their own washer and dryer typically spends $80 per month at a laundry.

“The kids were shocked,” Johnson told the Globe Gazette (https://bit.ly/1oHU1Ob).

The poverty simulation then gave the group $50 to make a difference in someone’s life. They spent it by taking laundry detergent and rolls of quarters to a laundry where it was greatly appreciated, Johnson said.

After that they researched other needs that aren’t covered through other assistance programs and what they could do in Hampton. The church’s outreach committee also became involved and it was decided to start a hygiene closet.

The group applied for grants, gathered donations, put up shelves in a church storage room and finally opened in March.

Called the Clean Up Closet, it features items such as toilet paper, dish soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, bandages, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, diapers, nail clippers and garbage bags.

“It’s been exciting,” Johnson said. “We’ve had between 12 and 15 families each time we’re open.”

The Clean Up Closet is open 9-11 a.m. the first Saturday and third Tuesday of the month. The confirmation class helps run it on Saturdays.

“They each have a part,” Johnson said, noting that some call out the items marked on the shopping list they give families when they arrive and others gather them.

Families are only allowed to use the Clean Up Closet once every three months and some items, such as toothbrushes, are only once a year.

The Clean Up Closet also has donated non-hygiene things such as socks and blankets that are set out for families, Johnson said.

Johnson said the community has been very supportive and the Clean Up Closet is a nice supplement to the Franklin County Food Pantry in Hampton.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, https://www.globegazette.com/

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