Mt. Lebanon High School students broke the record for most personal hygiene kits donated to the medical relief agency Global Links.
More than 900 people facing financial hardships will have access to shampoo, soap and deodorant, thanks to the generosity of Mt. Lebanon High School students and staff. They stepped up in a big way to respond to a call for assistance from Global Links, a medical relief and development organization dedicated to supporting health improvement initiatives in resource-poor communities.
“It blew me away,” said Stacy Bodow, outreach and engagement manager for Global Links. “It’s going to have a huge impact.” Global Links, based in Green Tree, thrives with a large support system of volunteers who typically offer 19,000 hours of service a year. The pandemic put a halt to in-person volunteer work, which meant Global Links had to find other ways for people to help as the need for assistance soared.
Many of Global Links’ more than 400 partner organizations who help those in need—up from roughly 30 organizations pre-pandemic—expressed a need for personal hygiene items, which are not covered by SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, Bodow said. What started as an end-of-year volunteer opportunity for families to gather and donate personal hygiene products turned into a challenge: Collect 21,000 kits filled with the essentials in 2021.
Mt. Lebanon High School students have volunteered at Global Links headquarters for years. “It’s one of my favorite places to visit,” said Christy Smith, high school librarian and National Honor Society faculty coordinator, noting that the students get to see the end result of their efforts when they assist at Global Links. This year was different. Students couldn’t go to the Green Tree facility to help. Service hours anywhere have at times been a struggle to find.
Judith Kolko, director of student activities at the high school, came across a flier for the personal hygiene initiative. Kolko and Smith organized a donation drive—hoping to get at least 100 kits. But they quickly ran out of space, as the donations poured in. “They would come in with these huge boxes,” Smith said of the students.
Mt. Lebanon High School students and staff spent the month of January creating the kits. Smith, who had planned to drive the donations over to Global Links in her car, soon realized that wouldn’t be enough space. Instead, the district’s facilities department delivered the donations—carefully packaged on large pallets—in one of the district’s box trucks.
Smith said that while she’s always impressed with her students, she was once again blown away by their generosity. “I’m just really proud of them,” she said.
Mt. Lebanon High School’s donation of more than 900 kits has been the largest Global Links has received so far.
“Mt. Lebanon has always been a great partner,” Bodow said. “I love how they do service … They’re so willing to step up and help their neighbors.”