Editor's note: This story is part of Sioux Falls Simplified's "A Little Help" give-back effort. We're sharing stories all month long about Journey of Hope with the goal of raising $5,000 to support the ongoing operations of this local nonprofit. You can learn more here and donate here.

Simplified: A new partnership between nonprofit Journey of Hope and the Sioux Falls School District will connect hundreds of kids from low-income families with free and accessible hygiene products. Here's what you need to know.

Why it matters

  • The partnership will provide hygiene kits to all fifth grade students at Sioux Falls' nine Title 1 schools. The kits will be handed out by school nurses during lessons for students about puberty and the importance of hygiene to their overall health.
  • Schools are already helping kids in several ways to maintain basic hygiene, from providing showers to helping kids do laundry, said Molly Satter, senior coordinator of health services. Journey of Hope's partnership is a way to take that support and give kids something tangible they can take home to help them feel confident, supported and hopeful.
  • Journey of Hope Founder Kari Palmer recognizes the importance of cleanliness not only to overall health, but also to confidence. Palmer said many of us take for granted that we have access to things like shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant. But there are many kids who don't have those resources readily available.
"Prior to starting (with the school district), I didn't realize the needs that some kids had when it comes to basic necessities," Satter said. "Once you are in schools and you see that, it can feel really helpless – unless you have a great organization like Journey of Hope ... to turn to to say, hey, we need help with this."

Tell me more about the kits

Kits will include:

  • a combination shampoo and conditioner,
  • a bar of soap,
  • deodorant,
  • toothpaste,
  • a toothbrush,
  • lotion,
  • pads for girls,
  • and, if there's enough to go around, a chapstick.
"It might be surprising to people the excitement kids get just from getting a hygiene kit," Satter said. "That's something they're excited to get because they don't have access to it."

What will this mean for kids?

Kristin Boerboom, a Journey of Hope board member and school liason for Falls Community Health, said having the kits to take home after a puberty discussion will also give kids a tangible way to start more conversations at home about hygiene and health.

  • In her work with Falls, Boerboom sees firsthand the challenges families face in accessing these types of products. It can be tough for families both financially and logistically because many don't have access to transportation to get to the store or the funds to buy the products they need once they get there.
"Hygiene is a wonderful foundation for health," she said. "You're going to be able to learn so much better when you're feeling healthy and confident, and it's really a foundation moving forward ... I think doing (the kits) in fifth grade is a really important thing for youth in our community."

How can I help?

Each kit costs between $3.80 and $6. Kits for girls cost a little more because they include pads.

You can also sponsor an entire school for as little as $50.

  • Larger schools like Garfield or Annie Sullivan Elementary have upwards of 90 fifth graders, meaning the cost to cover kits for that school will be closer to $400 or $450.

The total expected cost to provide kits to all fifth graders at the Title 1 schools is a little over $2,000. That'll provide kits for more than 500 students.

You can donate directly to support Journey of Hope here. Be sure to mention Sioux Falls Simplified so they know you're supporting this campaign.