Amnesty International collects hygiene products

Amnesty Club finds so much joy in collecting hygienic necessities for people who have trouble accessing or buying items for themselves and their family. Following Valley Outreach and their Help for the Homelesshygiene drive, the club took it upon themselves to ask students to donate items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and other care products and bring them to their fifth hour classes.

Amnesty fights for human rights in the United Sates and around the world. They do social work to fight against the injustice of minorities and members of the community. The hygiene drive is just one of the many things the organization does to support and help others.

“Amnesty is a club interested in working for human rights. We’re associated with Amnesty International which is actually a larger parent organization that has clubs within different high schools. They do a lot with petitions to help people around the world who are unfairly imprisoned or are silenced by their government for doing something that could be considered more of a right by people in our society than by people in their country,” junior Amelia Torgerson said.

When the drive began, members of Amnesty and those associated with the drive asked fifth hour classes in all grades to participate by bringing hygiene items or money to class during the week of Feb. 27. Members wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of the drive so that they could donate.

We’re still trying to think up ways to improve the issues around the world and in our community.”

— Corri Gardner

“We had posters around the school and had different club members go around and talk to the classes. They actually provided the boxes to the classes,” Torgerson said.

On March 3, the items were collected from each room and members of Amnesty went to work on sorting the items. A portion of the items they fundraised were sent to Valley Outreach. A bigger portion went to an overseas country of Amnesty Club’s choosing.

“We collect products such as soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner, pretty much everyday items that we all take for granted because a lot of people in our community aren’t able to purchase these things on their own so they go to Valley Outreach where they can get groceries and items such as these hygiene products that students donate. That’s part of the emphasis on us trying to get people involved in helping the community,” senior Corri Gardner said.

This year, Gardner and her fellow officers of Amnesty chose to send the hygiene products to their friend Okey, a man from Nigeria who grew up fairly privileged but wanted to help others that were not, and his organization called Basic Institute for Zonal African Advancement (BIZAA).

“We do a lot of work with Okey, so some of the donated items we actually donate to him and he brings them back to Nigeria for a home/schooling system that they set up that provides education, safety and a home environment for people who were trafficked,” Gardner said.

While Amnesty prides themselves in their help overseas, they are also immensely happy that they are helping people in their own community as well.

“Valley Outreach let’s us know that there’s a lot of students at our school and a lot of members of our community that we probably see and talk to everyday that we wouldn’t expect get help from these items. A lot of people aren’t very open about that stuff. Poverty is a bigger issue in this community than people like to admit because we live in Stillwater and it’s like most communities that look nice are put together and developed but at the same time there are so many people here [that need help],” Gardner said.

Students were given an incentive to win: whoever collected the most items and/or money would win a catered meal by Jimmy Johns and a popsicle party.

“It’s really frustrating sometimes because we will come up with these drives and they aren’t that successful and we wonder how that can be. All of these people we know can spare a jar of peanut butter or a pack of toothbrushes or a couple dollars. We don’t have to have an incentive but it definitely increases the participation because then the classes get excited. I’m not really proud in the fact that it helps but it does help,” Gardner said.

With or without the incentive, this drive is an amazing way for students to give to their community in several ways. The hygiene drive is an awesome way to get involved.

“We’re still trying to think up ways to improve the issues around the world and in our community,” Gardner said.