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Giving away the 'bare necessities': Free hygiene drive for families

Kids are constantly growing, which makes buying clothing difficult for some families, especially during the pandemic.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash — The coronavirus and the unstable economy make some parents unable to afford hygiene products. This is why Mission Community Outreach Center (MCOC) held a drive in the Spokane Community College's parking lot to give care packages to local families.

The virus has caused financial insecurity in Spokane and more people are having to go on subsidy programs, like food stamps. But hygiene products do not fall in state or federal programs.

Credit: Morgan Trau
Clothing for girls

"If you have numerous kids, and you have to get them new underwear and socks all the time, because they're growing out of it," said Executive Director of MCOC Ali Norris. "It can be very expensive."

MCOC has been a free clothing, hygiene and diaper bank since they started in 1980. Clothing is not something that a lot of nonprofits focus on, Norris added.

Credit: Morgan Trau
Ali Norris talks about her organization

"Our main goal is to serve individuals and families in our community that are in need, especially right now during COVID," she said.

They have seen an increased need in items, such as underwear, socks and laundry supplies.

"We're calling this is the bare necessities," she added. "Things that they need every day that maybe they can't afford."

Norris is the only full time staff member, so she and her team get help from volunteers. 

"Everyone is in need of of something, you know, whether it be physically, hygiene or anything like that," said Elder McGregor. "Luckily, and thankfully, this organization offers some of that."

Credit: Morgan Trau
Volunteers speak with a customer

Going and asking for assistance can be intimidating. A mother who was driving through told me she was too embarrassed to be recorded, but the Center says that there is no shame in getting extra help, and no one there will make you feel insecure.

"We try to really have it more of like a shopping experience for our customers to come in, so they feel like they're just shopping at a store, except they don't have to pay for anything," Norris said. "We're really hoping that when they come in, they feel welcome and invited and that it's not a stressful situation."

The center has enough items for about 3,000 people, and the rest will be kept at their pantry for anyone to come and get. 

Mission Community Outreach Center

Address: 1906 E. Mission Ave, Spokane, WA 99202

Phone: 509-536-1084

Email: MCOC.Spokane@gmail.com