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Shoebox drive to help homeless

CONYERS - United Way is asking that you to empty your closet, decorate some shoe boxes, then stuff them with goodies for needy community members.

In February, Metro Atlanta United Way's Women's Legacy group kicked off its fourth annual Shoebox Project.

From now until May 8, Rockdale County's United Way will collect shoe boxes filled with toiletry items to deliver to homeless women and children in the area.

"The main part of this project is public awareness," said Claire Cline, area director of Rockdale County's United Way. "We do have people in our community who do not have resources for purchasing toiletry items."

Cline said the project started after one of United Way's affinity groups, Women's Legacy, toured area shelters.

"They saw a need for toiletry items," Cline said. "Most shelters' expendable money is now going to food, so toiletry items fall off the bottom of the page."

Additionally, she said individuals living in cars or on the streets don't spend much, if any, money on toiletry items if they are struggling to buy food and gas.

"This is one of the small things we can do to help the shelters save money for food and electricity," Cline said. "And it's a small way the community can help. Now, the need is the greatest it's ever been."

Community members are asked to bring in a shoe box or a 1-gallon Ziploc bag filled with new, unopened toiletry items like shampoo, soap, lotion, sun screen, deodorant, toothbrush and paste, hand sanitizer and tissue. Other needed items include feminine products, baby items, warm socks, hand towels, prepaid phone cards, rain ponchos, storage bags and travel-size bottled water.

Donors can drop off items at United Way in Rockdale, 1174 Scott St., Conyers, through May 8.

United Way asks that individuals not donate used or opened items, sewing kits, medicine or candy.

Individuals also are asked to decorate their shoe boxes, if possible.

"That's a little special touch to women and children that shows somebody cares about them and that there is hope," Cline said. "Yes, it's for needed items, but it feels good."

Those who choose to decorate their shoe boxes should make sure the lid and the shoe box bottom are wrapped separately.

Girl Scout troops and other groups are decorating empty shoe boxes for items donated in bags and undecorated boxes.

"Rockdale has been a very supportive community since this project started," Cline said. "It's good for everybody because (those who donate or help) feel good because they are doing something for somebody else."

Cline said all items will be distributed to shelters and organizations that support individuals in Rockdale County, including Project ReNeWal, Rockdale Emergency Relief, Refuge Pregnancy Center, Rockdale County Public Schools and Open Door.

United Way also is looking for volunteers to distribute boxes locally, leaders to coordinate or organize businesses or groups to participate in the project and individuals or groups to host shoe box parties, during which people can gather to decorate and fill shoe boxes.

More information about the project and volunteer opportunities is available by calling 678-623-2890, visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org/rockdale or dropping by their offices on Scott Street in Conyers.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: Shoebox project

Donate a shoe box filled with new and unopened items until May 8:

-Shampoo

-Soap

-Lotion

-Sun protector

-Adhesive bandages

-Antibiotic ointment

-Tampons/panty liners

-Children's underwear

-Baby wipes/diapers/lotion

-Travel-size bottled water

-Resealable zipper storage bags

-Deodorant

-Toothbrush and paste

-Hair comb or brush

-Lip balm

-Hand towel

-Warm socks

-Hand sanitizer

-Travel-size tissue pack

-Non-alcoholic mouthwash

-Rain poncho

-Prepaid phone cards

· For decorated boxes, lids and boxes should be wrapped separately.

· A 1-gallon Ziploc bag is acceptable in place of a shoe box.