Health and hygiene: Junior League of Abilene’s methods of combating homelessness

Local News

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – With just shy of two months until Christmas, it’s nearing time to get shopping all finished. In a matter of days, Abilene will have a great chance to get that shopping out of the way early with the Junior League of Abilene’s Christmas Carousel. The event is their one fundraiser for the entire year.

The Junior League has three primary “impact areas”. This article details one: health and hygiene. The Junior League’s focus is on children experiencing homelessness in Abilene. For these children, health and hygiene principles that many take for granted can be alien concepts.

“We all want to be clean”, said Abilene ISD Homeless Liaison Darrin Cox, “and some of our kids don’t understand to take showers, and to stay clean, use deodorant.”

Cox says getting hygiene items to the kids helps them feel like they belong in school, confident in their place.

“They’re not pointed out, they’re not singled out, they’re not made fun of or anything else. They’re just like all the rest of us that like to take showers every night, and stay clean, and enjoy being around the company of our peers”, Cox said.

This is the second year the Junior League has pitched in, helping to fill care packs of toothbrushes, combs, shampoo, feminine care products, and much more for the area’s homeless kids. Christmas Carousel is what makes it all possible.

Junior League President Taylor Tomanka explained: “Christmas Carousel funds our entire budget for the next year. Last year we did very well, and we were able to put almost $50 thousand into our projects and programs for this current year. Obviously we always want to up that goal, so we’re hoping to raise more money this year.”

Health and hygiene are part of the Junior League’s three pronged approach to curb homelessness, rather than just covering up the symptoms.

“If you’re hungry and dirty and tired, you’re not going to be able to stay awake during school, you’re not going to be paying attention”, said Tomanka. “Low income kids have a much higher drop-out rate than any other kids. We want to keep them in school, we want to give them the tools to succeed and hopefully get out of the system.”

The key to all this change, Christmas Carousel, runs October 31 through November 3.

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