Just over 1,000 pounds of toothbrushes, toilet paper, diapers, soap and other hygiene products will help local nonprofit Integrated Family Community Services help thousands of monthly visitors thanks to the latest efforts of the Denver Metro South Rotary Club.
The relatively new Rotary club partnered with Integrated Family Community Services (IFCS) to host a donation drive for hygiene products in October, collecting donation bags that were dropped off at about 300 homes in Highlands Ranch golf club neighborhood.
Mindy Waite, a founding member of the Denver Metro South Rotary chapter, said the group focused on hygiene items because it’s one of Integrated Family Community Services’ top needs.
“It’s not as hard for (IFCS) to get food, so we decided to do hygiene products this round,” Waite said.
Families and individuals using Colorado’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, can’t use that money for non-edible items, which can lead to high demand for hygiene products, explained Todd McPherson, director of development for Integrated Family Community Services.
“A lot of times hygiene products, basic cleaning supplies, those sort of things go to the wayside,” McPherson said. “We’ve tried to be more deliberate in letting people know that (donating hygiene items) is an option.”
McPherson said IFCS serves more than 6,000 people each month from all across the state and roughly 1,000 people each month are unhoused and don’t have access to stable food and hygiene supplies. With inflation on the rise, a broader group of people are seeking food, hygiene items and other essentials at IFCS, he said.
According to the Consumer Price Index, the cost of food in the Denver area in September was up around 12% more than the same time last year.
“The big change we’re seeing (at IFCS) is brand new people,” McPherson said. “The demand and number of people we serve is pretty consistent, but we’re always surprised everyday to see the numbers of people who are coming to us for the very first time.”
Currently, IFCS is providing visitors prepackaged boxes of essential goods in a drive-thru style service, but McPherson said the nonprofit is planning to return to a market style service, where people can shop for their own items. When that transition happens, he imagines demand will increase as people have more access to the available options, he said.
McPherson said the efforts of the Rotary club are crucial to the organization, especially since its not immune to the impacts of inflation either. On average, IFCS spends $30,000 per month on groceries.
“When people go out of their way to volunteer, coordinate and transfer all the goods, it means a lot to us,” he said. “Volunteers are just incredibly important to what we do.”
The hygiene drive is the latest successful partnership between the two organizations. Last October, Waite said the Denver Metro South group collected 2,500 pounds of food for IFCS.
With a goal of 10 service projects per year, Waite said the group will continue to partner with IFCS, as well as other local nonprofits and community service organizations. Next month, the Denver South Metro Rotary will be collecting Thanksgiving food for Developmental Pathways.
“What I love seeing when we’re out (volunteering) is the amazing generosity … and how much people are willing to give,” Waite said.