Machinists collect toiletries to help Seattle homeless

SEATTLE — The Human Rights and Women’s committees at Machinists Union District Lodge 751 are teaming up to collect toiletry items for homeless people in Seattle.

toiletriesThe two committees will collect travel-sized items – including shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant – throughout March and April. Donations will be collected at all IAM 751 union halls in Puget Sound.

“Obviously, when you’re living in a homeless shelter, you don’t have a lot of money to spend on personal hygiene items,” said Women’s Committee co-chairwoman Dena Bartman. “This drive will help these people get cleaned up for job interviews, and just help them feel that much better.”

And without toothbrushes and toothpaste, “homeless people are at much higher risk for having dental problems, which can grow into broader health issues,” said committee co-chair Grace Holland.

In addition, the committees are looking for donations of unused combs, dental floss, deodorant, Q-tips, foot powder, first-aid items, razors, feminine hygiene products, hand sanitizer, toilet paper (or flushable wipes), sunscreen and socks.

The leaders of both the city of Seattle and King County have declared a crisis over the rise in local homelessness.

A citywide count in January 2016 found there were some 4,500 people sleeping on the streets of Seattle, which represented a 19 percent increase over the previous year. Across King County, as many as 10,000 people were either sleeping outside or staying in shelters on any given night last year.

“While our elected leaders try to find long-term solutions to homelessness, the rest of us can do our part by actually reaching out to our homeless neighbors,” said IAM 751 Chief of Staff Richard Jackson, who leads the Human Rights Committee.

“Our MVPs do a great thing by regularly preparing and serving meals for homeless people at the Everett Gospel Mission and The Rescue Mission in Tacoma,” he added. “This toiletry drive gives all our union’s members the opportunity to actively get involved in meeting the needs of our local communities.”

Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents nearly 31,000 working men and women at 53 employers across Washington and California.

Follow IAM 751 on Twitter.

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