hygiene

With Importance of Hygiene During Pandemic, Mass. Nonprofit Helps Provide Products to Those In Need

Hope and Comfort, a nonprofit based in Needham, Massachusetts, is working to help families in need stay safe and clean

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It takes a lot to stay well-groomed these days.

Hygiene products like soap are important during the coronavirus pandemic, when hand-washing is so integral to health. Hope and Comfort, a nonprofit based in Needham, Massachusetts, is working to make sure people in need have those items.

That can be a challenge for thousands of people in Massachusetts.

"You're getting toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo," said Waltham High School senior Katerine Morales.

"There are close to 250,000 children and young adults who have to wake up in the morning each day and go through the day worried about how they look and smell and feel because they can't afford a simple bar of soap or a tube of toothpaste," said Jeff Feingold, the founder and president of Hope and Comfort.

In 2019, the organization gave out half a million products. That number will triple this year with hygiene insecurity on the rise.

"Because of COVID, we expect to deliver 1.5 million products," said Feingold.

"You get to choose which products you want to receive that month, which is also really cool," Morales said.

Morales is busy with school, work and preparing for college. She learned about the program through Waltham Partnership for Youth, a youth wellness, career exploration and training program.

It's one of more than 100 partner organizations that receives hygiene products from Hope and Comfort and distributes them to people who need the products.

They include the Women's Lunch Place in Boston, which serves women experiencing homelessness and poverty.

"Instead of having to spend the money on soap and shampoo and things like that, I can use it to prevent evictions," said Nancy Armstrong, the director of operations at the Women's Lunch Place.

And food pantries like St. Patrick's in Watertown — serving some of the 58% of low income people who cut back on food to buy more hygiene products.

"[Many] have to choose between getting toothpaste or pasta, so when they have this given to them, it's wonderful," said Eleanor Igoe, who volunteers at several area food pantries.

Hope and Comfort only distributes high-quality products. The organization believes good hygiene should not depend on your income.

"It's about trying to elevate their worth and their idea of self care, and dignity and confidence," Feingold said.

Morales said that's what Hope and Comfort has done for her.

"I think it makes people feel so much better, so much more comfortable," she said.

To get involved or help visit HopeAndComfort.org. The organization is always accepting volunteers and donations, including hygiene products.

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