HAZARD — The R.W. Combs Elementary School dropped off hygiene donations to the Hope House homeless shelter in Hazard on March 8. The donations were a result of a hygiene drive that the whole school took part in.
The school donated 95 hygiene bags, 200 rolls of toilet paper, and 600 combined items of toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, soap, body wash, shampoo, creame rinses, lotion, razors, shaving gel, hand sanitizer, chapsticks, combs, brushes, and wipes.
Lead Pastor of Journey Christian Church Ben Fugate said watching the R.W. Combs’ students pull into the parking lot of Hope House and begin unloading the donations pulled at his heartstrings.
When R.W. Combs informed Fugate that they were starting a donation drive, Fugate said he was invited to speak at a kick-off rally. He explained to them what the Hope House’s mission was.
“To hear those things is good, but when they actually show up in the parking lot and bring it in… I’m a mess,” said Fugate.
Fugate said witnessing the kindness of the students and staff at R.W. Combs makes him realize how promising the future for Hope House and the community is.
Reading and Recovery Specialist Ruth Adkins said she was devastated when the Corner Haven Homeless Shelter closed its doors earlier this year.
Adkins has been teaching for 29 years.
When Adkins found out Fugate was attempting to open up the Hope House, she knew she wanted to get involved somehow.
“I talked with one of the student councillor members and I said ‘Why don’t we do a hygiene drive?’ because I knew it was something they were going to need,” said Adkins.
Adkins said the student councillor liked the idea, so the school had a meeting on what they could do to help the Hope House.
“We wanted to do our part to help Fugate and the community,” said Adkins.
The hygiene drive lasted for two weeks. Each grade-level had a specific item that they took donations up for.
Adkins said the school had a lot of support from the parents and even the students.
“We had kids giving up their snack money so they could buy donations,” said Adkins.
She said she knew the school would get some donations, but she was surprised by how much they collected at the end of the drive. Adkins said R.W. Combs is one big family. They take care of each other and the community, Adkins said.
Adkins said these community service projects are teaching students life-long lessons of empathy and compassion for their fellow man. They try to have these community service projects several times a year at R.W. Combs.
Fugate praised Perry County Schools Superintendent Jonathan Jett for leading the charge with community service projects, such as this one.
“He is leading the charge with the students on giving back,” said Fugate.
He also praised the Perry County School systems as a whole, because he said he has had several teachers and staff email him and ask how they could help.
Fugate said Jett introduced a payroll deduction for teachers and staff to sign up for. The deduction would benefit the Hope House.
He said he would like to thank everyone at R.W. Combs Elementary for their kindness and support of the Hope House.
Right now, Hope House needs volunteers for two shifts. One shift is for 6:30 p.m.-11 p.m. and the other shift is for 11 p.m.-7 a.m.
If you are interested and would like to volunteer you can message Ben Fugate on Facebook. Hope House has a Facebook page listed under Hope House.
TJ Caudill is a reporter with The Hazard Herald. He can be reached at 606-629-3245.