Hygiene Kits for Elementary School Children: Greensboro, NC
The Sathya Sai Center of Greensboro, North Carolina provided hygiene kits to twenty school children at a local elementary school.
In December 2019, a Sai Center member was volunteering at an elementary school when she overheard a dispiriting conversation between two boys working on math together. One child covered his nose and accused the other of having bad breath. The child, hurt by the comment, began crying, so the Sai volunteer gently escorted him from the room. Walking down the hall, the boy explained that his mother had lost her job and could no longer afford to buy toothpaste. Thereafter, the volunteer discovered from a school counselor that other children were also in dire need of essential hygiene items.
Later that week, the Sai volunteer discussed this scenario with the Center’s Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) children, ages six through nine. Using the theme “Watch Your Words”, she explained how speech should pass through three gates: “Is It True?”, “Is It Kind?” and “Is It Necessary?”. The little boy’s sad experience touched the children’s hearts, and the SSE class decided to adopt a hygiene kit drive as a Center-wide project, involving 35 adults and 17 children.
Each family at the Center contributed 5-10 hygiene items, and put together kits containing: children’s toothpaste, 2-3 children’s toothbrushes, floss, children’s mouthwash, shampoo, adult toothpaste and toothbrush, Q-tips, and 1-2 bars of soap. The SSE children were encouraged to accompany their parents to shop for supplies, to see how a few dollars can make a world of difference to people in need, especially since some children were wanting very expensive toys for Christmas. The children packed the supplies into gallon-sized Ziploc bags, placing cheery stickers on the top.
Once twenty hygiene kits were assembled, the volunteer went back to the school and, during recess, discreetly placed the hygiene kits inside the backpacks of the students in need
Positive feedback and gratitude came pouring in. The volunteer received a call from a mother whose child had received a hygiene kit. The mother cried over the phone as she explained that her daughter’s oily hair could not be cleaned by the cheap shampoo she could only afford, but the more expensive shampoo provided in the hygiene kit cleaned her hair beautifully. Her daughter no longer felt distressed and was able to sleep peacefully that night.
The Center members learned they don’t have to do big things to make a difference. The service project also inspired them to be mindful of things they take for granted. The SSE children became gentler with each other, biting their tongues when harsh words came to mind, and some children became less wasteful. One boy said, “Gosh, I never even thought about these things. It makes me sad that some people have it so hard.”
Between the lesson on kind speech and the hygiene kits, the service project enabled the fragrance of love to permeate the lives of givers and receivers alike.