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Locals work to improve student access to hygiene supplies

The Junior Auxiliary of Picayune will begin collecting hygiene supplies Tuesday for students in the Pearl River County School District, said Auxiliary President Brittany Dennis.

The supplies will be used to create caring closets in Pearl River County schools filled with essentials like deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other products, Dennis said.

A similar closet was established at the Pearl River Central Middle School earlier this month, Dennis said. Students who may need hygiene items can visit the closet and select what they need, Dennis said, or students can ask for items they need. The closet gives kids an opportunity to acquire items discreetly, Dennis said.

The caring closet drive began with a survey of Pearl River County and Picayune School District teachers in order to gauge whether students would benefit from a variety of hygiene items in their school, Dennis said.

“It not only confirmed the need, but it specified the needs that these children have that were beyond what we expected them to need,” Dennis said.

Supplies will be collected from Oct. 1 to Oct 15 at 16 locations: Coast Electric Power Company, Center Stage School of Dance, A Step Above, Picayune’s Intermodal Transportation Center, Leisha’s Dance Studio, Paint Your Own Studio, West Union Baptist Church, Caesar Country Store, Resurrection Life Church, Glow Medical, Manna Ministries, Liberty Tax Service, the Senior Center of South Pearl River County, Kiki’s Play Gym, Nathan Farmer’s law office and the Henleyfield location of  Dollar General.

Items most needed in the drive include toiletries, such as products for nail care, skin care, hair care, dental care and feminine hygiene, and underwear.

After creating closets in the Pearl River County School District, the group hopes to work with the Picayune School District to create closets in any school that needs one, Dennis said. One Picayune school already has a caring closet that was established by staff at the school, Dennis said. Long term, Junior Auxiliary hopes to create closets at every school in the county, Dennis said, and plans to hold a bi-yearly drive in the fall and spring to keep the closets well stocked.

For more information on the project, visit the Junior Auxiliary of Picayune website, picayunejuniorauxiliary.org, the club’s Facebook page or by calling 601-590-0026.