Fifteen years ago the events of 9/11 changed our world forever. One of the travel outcomes was the mandatory use of containers holding no more than 3.4 fluid oz. More than one traveler had their shampoo and body wash confiscated by security before we got used to the new regulation. But now those containers are readily available, and they are the perfect size for the hygiene kits tucked into the backpacks distributed to Lancaster County’s homeless.
In addition to shampoo and body wash, the kits include travel-size deodorant, toothpaste, shaving cream, a toothbrush and razor. Everything is packed into a storage baggie to keep dry. When the items are bought in bulk, the cost of assembling the kit is $2.30.
A second baggie provides nutrition. Each backpack comes with a juice box or bottle of water, tuna salad kit or other canned meat, pudding or fruit, crackers, cereal or granola bar. The food kit cost on average $7.00
Other items Kevin likes to keep in the Mobile Shower Unit are tarps, $4 at Walmart; mats made from plastic bags with pillows, plastic bags free when we purchase our groceries; clean clothes including underwear, socks, pants and shirts.
Years ago I was a Youth Minister and one of our annual events was a 30 Hour Famine. Parents thought I was crazy to lock myself in the church hall for 30 hours with a bunch of hungry teens! But it was great. We talked about being hungry and homeless, how it wouldn’t take much to lose everything and be in that situation. One of our exercises was to go to a local grocery store first thing in the morning, when the bakery was putting out its fresh baked goods, and to survey items on the shelves. The kids found it hard to concentrate on empty stomachs while being assaulted by the wonderful aromas coming from the bakery and deli. They were overwhelmed by our abundance when asked to count the different kinds of water, the number of cereals, the variety of hygiene products. And they were surprised at the cost of things.
It takes less than $10 to provide a basic hygiene kit and a simple meal for the men and women living in the woods, under bridges and in the abandoned buildings that surround us; $4 provides a tarp for a bit of protection from the elements.
A woman once approached Kevin and told him he wasn’t Jesus. He quickly agreed. But who’s to say that one of the men and women he encounters, isn’t. He’s making sure . . . just in case. ‘Whenever you do this for the least of my brothers, you do this for me.’ Kevin and the others don’t preach the scripture, they live it.
Contact Kevin firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the homeless in Lancaster County, more about the Mobile Shower Unit, or to make a donation.