United Way of the Midlands helps students 'Shine Bright' with hygiene boxes to start the school year

Boxes of hygiene products aims to help kids feel their best when they arrive to school
Posted at 6:33 PM, Aug 11, 2022

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — Getting students and families prepared for the school year is becoming more and more difficult throughout the years. Specifically, this school year the United Way has seen an accelerated need due to rising costs and inflation.

"Obviously COVID was devastating for many different families, but in all honesty, we think the inflationary pressures are almost more difficult for families. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and things like milk and food products and gas are going up 8 to 10%, it’s making it really hard to make ends meet," said Shawna Forsberg, president and CEO of the United Way of the Midlands.

That's why the organization has partnered with three school districts in the metro to distribute Shine Bright boxes. Five-thousand boxes packed with full-sized hygiene products such as body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergent and more will be distributed to kids in need who attend OPS, Council Bluffs Community School District and Papillion La Vista Public Schools.

"I look forward to this event every year, the reason is not just the things the kids are going to receive, but how the families are going to feel receiving them. When I think bout how much things cost right now and the fact that some of the things students will receive, such as feminine hygiene products, are really difficult to find. So the opportunity for families to know one set of items they don’t have to worry about for one week, or months in some cases, really brings joy to my heart," Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools Dr. Cheryl Logan said.

The United Way says, while it aims to help a wide range of people, focusing on the youth is important.

"The youth is our future. We really want to make sure kids get the most out of the school year," Forsberg said.

It's increased its distribution from 4,000 in the past, to 5,000 this year. They work closely with school counselors to determine kids in kindergarten, 6th and 9th grade who are in need.