Hygiene for the Homeless was founded in 2014 by Aric Zhuang, who was inspired by a chance encounter during an outing on winter break.
As he left a local Walgreens, Aric had an intimate conversation with a homeless individual, recognizing and understanding the disparity and struggles people without a place to call home had to handle. But most importantly, he learned something most people don’t know. Hygiene and the difficulty of obtaining it – were struggles homeless people faced on a daily basis. Women, especially those in need of female-specific toiletries suffered the most.
With modest attention in the first year, Aric and a circle of friends collected unused and spare hygiene items to assemble kits – bringing them while on trips to nearby cities and towns.
As time passed, however, Hygiene for the Homeless grew in size and scale, expanding to include over a dozen branches in different locations, while distributing over thousands of crucial items such as toothbrushes, combs, toothpaste, shampoo, and soap.
Howard Johnson Hotels and Quality Inn have also partnered with Hygiene for the Homeless to provide unused and leftover toiletries, not only benefiting those in need but also reducing the amount of waste produced, benefiting the environment.
The importance of good hygiene cannot be understated: Improper care of personal hygiene can lead to many harmful medical conditions, including infections and diseases. But worst of all, bad hygiene makes these people lose their place in society and suffer low self-esteem. Even with access to a proper washing facility, many homeless shelters lack the resources to provide the necessary supplies and materials for homeless individuals to keep themselves clean.
It is incredibly difficult for these people to get jobs once they become homeless due to small issues like the inability to clean up for an interview or work. Not being able to look clean and prepared traps these people in a cycle of poverty and homelessness.
We believe that no matter how small a contribution is, it has the potential to make a huge difference. Work with us, and make a change, one kit at a time.