A Temple sorority will be collecting toiletries for the homeless on Wed., April 25.The sorority, Delta Zeta, is sponsoring “Bathrooms Across Campus” on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., during which time they will collect hygiene items at various spots around main campus. The items collected will be given to StandUp for Kids, a non-profit, almost entirely volunteer organization that counsels and helps homeless and street youth.
Dana Stenack, a freshman member of the 37 strong Delta Zeta, said that every sorority is involved in philanthropy, and they chose StandUp for Kids because many of them are friends with Marty Weinberger, the organization’s regional director.
“We just feel like its really important when there’s something you can do to benefit people,” Stenack said. “It’s important for people to give to others, and at the same time it makes you feel good to help people who are less fortunate.”
“Personally, I just like kids and helping them out,” said Shannon Ptak, a sophomore sorority member. “We’re not making any money on this at all. This is purely for helping out kids in the Philadelphia area who are homeless.”
The sorority will have tables set up at the collection points, which will definitely include the Bell Tower and Johnson and Hardwick Residence Halls and also include Ritter Hall.
Acceptable hygiene items include shampoo, soap, razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, lip balm, sun screen, Handi-Wipes, vitamins and feminine products, according to the StandUp for Kids Philadelphia web site at www.standupforkids.com. The sorority will also accept monetary donations, which will be used to buy more toiletries.
“A lot of people donate clothes,” sophomore sorority member April Gratias said, “but they don’t realize that kids need personal hygiene items, and they’re harder to come by.”
The relationship between the sorority and StandUp for Kids could continue future “Bathrooms Across Campus” projects. “I’m sure we’ll do it again, possibly, ’cause it’s a good cause,” Ptak said.
StandUp for Kids was founded in 1990 in San Diego. The organization now has 20 programs in nine states, with national headquarters in Denver. The program in Philadelphia started at the beginning of the fall semester Weinberger said. The program has no office, but for address purposes is registered with Temple.
Weinberger is one of only four paid employees of StandUp for Kids nationwide. “Volunteers do everything,” he said. Philadelphia volunteers go out Monday and Thursday nights, as well as Saturday during the day, with bags of food and hygiene supplies for homeless and street youth. Weinberger said they also give kids “outreach cards” with a list of services such as traveler’s aid, phone numbers for shelters and free clinics and information on needle exchanges.
Weinberger said the program in Philadelphia has 20 volunteers so far, with another 10 going through training. About half are Temple students, he said, and some Delta Zeta members have also expressed interest in volunteering.
Gratias is one of those members. She has already attended an orientation meeting, and is looking forward to becoming an outreach volunteer. “Marty’s a great person to talk to,” she said. “I can’t wait to start training. I’m really excited about it.”
The outreach volunteers go mainly around Kensington, Center City, South Street and Columbus Boulevard. They choose “places where there’s going to be a lot of people spending money, or there’s drug problems, or crime areas,” Weinberger added.
Weinberger said that volunteers meet two kids a night, on average. They haven’t met more kids yet, Weinberger said, because as a new program, “We don’t know where they are, and they don’t know where we are.” Eventually, he said, they’ll stay in one place more often, and they hope to get more kids to come out to them.
StandUp for Kids is not only working with Delta Zeta to collect hygiene products, but is also working with Prudential on a food drive this week, Weinberger said.
There are other events coming up for the organization. On the last weekend of April, StandUp for Kids has “48 Hours on the Streets.” Outreach volunteers will stay on the streets for 48 hours, to “know what kids go through every day,” Weinberger said.
“Kids get to see that we’re out there,” he said. “It really lets them know we care.”