Heather Haley saw a demand that wasn’t being filled in Auburn’s community for women who need feminine hygiene and baby products.
A friend of hers started a drive several years ago in Washington, D.C., with a wish list on Amazon of baby products and feminine hygiene products that she could deliver to those in need.
Doing it localHaley, a doctoral candidate in Auburn University’s History department, thought that Auburn could use something similar. Each year she collects products and delivers them to the Food Bank of East Alabama. This year’s drive was to continue through April 15.
“That’s a really unusual donation, and it’s one that we are really especially appreciative of,” said Martha Henk, executive director of the Food Bank of East Alabama.
Henk said the food bank distributes these items quickly once it receives them because they are not donations it receives often.
The first year, in 2018, Haley raised roughly 300 pounds of products for those in need. Last year, the number rose to more than 1,500 pounds.
“The purpose really is to make students, in particular, aware that these items can always be donated at any time,” she said. “My own personal feeling is they should also be aware of the prices of these items [like baby products].”
The number of donations increased drastically from the first to the second year and Haley attributed that to professors offering extra credit for student involvement.
She said that she is aware that not all students can afford to donate, however.
“There are some students who can’t afford these items who probably go to the food bank to take advantage of these items,” Haley said. “And so we also give a disclaimer that if you cannot afford to buy these items, but you want to participate, please let us know.”
This year, Haley said she hopes to receive 1,600 pounds in donations. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has just thrown her for a loop — no more students on campus.
Students present the majority of donations for Haley’s initiative, she said.
Although she has an Amazon wish list (https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/10IYSZ9B4IKMF?ref_=wl_share) for products, several also bring donations to Thach Hall.
Without students on campus, Haley said the drive may slow down.
Despite the fact that there will be no on-campus classes until at least April 10 as classwork temporarily moves online, Haley said she hopes students will continue to donate through the Amazon link.
Haley said she would love to see members of the community donate, too.
Baby food, baby bottles, pads, tampons, soap and toothpaste aren’t usually donated to food banks, she said.
“This is such a fabulous product drive, the one that they do, it’s really super and it’s one that has a real impact,” she said.