OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As students prepare for the upcoming school year, the United Way wanted to make sure kids feel confident and comfortable walking the hallways. On Thursday, hundreds of volunteers packed Shine Bright Boxes filled with hygiene products like toothpaste, socks, lotion, laundry detergent and more to make sure they do.
Volunteers packed about 4,000 boxes that will be distributed to students in need who attend Omaha Public Schools and Council Bluffs Public Schools.
Dr. Cheryl Logan, Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools, expressed her gratitude for the volunteers.
"One of the things that we want and need to do is we can help children lessen their anxiety about coming to school. Coming to school clean, prepared and ready to learn is something this effort supports and we couldn’t be more excited to be here today to witness all the volunteers," Dr. Logan said. "There’s also another verse that says to whom much is given much is required and I think the people here represent that, they realize the blessings they have in their own lives and they’re willing to give time and talents to make sure people who aren’t experiencing life the way they are, have an opportunity to get some of the basic things they need and deserve."
Matt Wallen, Senior VP of Community Impact and Analytics at the United Way of the Midlands, said the hygiene kits will also take away financial burden for families.
"We know parents are still struggling and recovering from COVID-19. We know one in four families in the community are making a tough decision between medication, food, soap the most basics for the families, so we don’t want families to have to choose soap or toothbrushes over food and medication," Wallen said.
Representatives wanted to ensure the boxes were inclusive. The kits are separated into categories, with some having products for kids with straight hair and some having products for kids with natural hair. The boxes are also gender and age-specific.
"It’s really important for us to have a box and for each of the students to feel comfortable with what they’re receiving and to want to be able to utilize what they have so when they show up for school they’re ready to learn they’re feeling comfortable and confident and ready for the school year," Wallen said.
Representatives say these boxes will help set kids up for success in the school year. The boxes will be picked up by school representatives and distributed among schools to students in Kindergarten, seventh and ninth grade.