Personal Care Pantry at the Council Bluffs Corps Helps to Fill the Gap for Families and Individuals in Need

Mar 1, 2022

Many of us don’t think twice about the personal hygiene products we have access to and use every day, but for individuals and families struggling to make ends meet, necessary items like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant and laundry detergent are often considered luxuries.

These items, as well as paper products, cleaning supplies, vitamins, over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and allergy medicine and diapers and baby wipes, aren’t eligible for coverage by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as SNAP, and formerly known as food stamps), which means people have to pay for them out of pocket.

These expenses can add up quickly, especially for parents living paycheck to paycheck.

This is exactly why Capts. Chuck and Dana Cook recently opened a specialized personal care pantry at The Salvation Army’s Council Bluffs Corps Community Center, located at the Charles Lakin Human Services Campus.

“We saw there was a particular need for these items,” said Capt. Dana. “Right now we are the only personal care pantry in Council Bluffs, so this is definitely a valuable resource for the community.”

In addition to the personal care pantry, which offers everything from trash bags, cleaning products and disinfecting wipes to diapers, infant formula and feminine products, the Council Bluffs Corps also has a “self-serve food shelf,” where individuals and families who are experiencing food insecurity can pick up what they need.

The corps also provides utility assistance for individuals and families struggling to pay electric and heating bills, coats and winter outerwear and personal care packets with soap, socks, Chapstick, snacks and hand sanitizer for those experiencing homelessness.

For the Cooks, who have served in six communities in their 20 years as Salvation Army officers, meeting basic needs is at the heart of their mission. “There is need everywhere,” said Capt. Dana. “Our job is to help alleviate it as best we can, no matter where we are.”

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