NORTHAMPTON — After receiving dozens of donated meals from local restaurants and businesses since the start of the COVID-19 public-health crisis in March, Cooley Dickinson Health Care employees paid forward that generosity by donating hundreds of personal hygiene products, ranging from hairbrushes and razors to deodorant, soap, and toothpaste to the Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers and the Easthampton Community Center.
“It was so important to see first-hand the important work these agencies do for our communities,” said Cooley Dickinson Chief Nursing Officer Angela Belmont, who, along with Director of Community Health Jeff Harness, delivered donations at the agencies this week. “Our staff are so grateful for the generosity they have received from the community during the pandemic,”
Initially, Cooley Dickinson clinical staff — recipients of the donations of meals and other items such as surgical masks and gloves — wanted to thank the community by hosting a food drive. But due to the COVID-19 public-health crisis, area shelters and food pantries were unable to accept food donations. Instead, shelter staff proposed another idea: donations of personal hygiene items.
From late May through early June, Cooley Dickinson staff conducted their own drive, gathering diapers for children and adults, feminine-hygiene articles, baby wipes, shampoo, toothpaste, dental floss, hairbrushes and combs, soap, deodorant, and other personal-care items.
These items are sought-after because “our clients can’t use their SNAP [food stamp] funds to purchase taxable items,” said Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center. In a letter thanking Cooley Dickinson staff, Bialecki noted that the donations “make a world of difference to those in need. From the staff and volunteers at the Easthampton Community Center and all of the 5,000 clients we assist in 23 area communities, our most heartfelt thanks!”
In addition to the personal-care items gathered by hospital staff, each agency received a $2,500 gift of support from Cooley Dickinson Hospital to further their community outreach.