More than 25 percent of South Texas families are in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 American Community Survey, with some facing obstacles that unexpectedly uproot them. Fortunately, these struggling families are receiving assistance through basic necessities provided by students at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

Students with the Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity gathered more than 2,000 items – including toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoos, floss, face towels and razors – during the past semester. They assembled 150 care bags for distribution to three facilities assisting the needy.

“The idea was to make bags with basic travel-sized toiletries to hand out to the needy so they could take it where ever they go,” said Nikki Margaret Dang, third-year doctoral pharmacy student and Kappa Psi vice regent.

Students gave 50 Kappi Psi Kare bags on Feb. 1 to Mission 911 in Corpus Christi, which offers men and families who are working toward finding a home and a job a place to stay, rehabilitation, job placement assistance and spiritual guidance. The shelter assists an average of 15 to 40 people at a time, and hygiene items are the first things they need.

“For homeless people, care bags are a must,” said Ron Eggenberg, who works for Mission 911. “Often, they go for weeks without anything to clean themselves. They cannot go on job interviews without being clean.”

Students gave another 50 bags on Feb. 8 to the Kingsville Police Department domestic violence unit.

“Some of the most traumatic cases we deal with are the sexual assault and child abuse cases, and the people are displaced and forced to leave,” said Sandra Ochoa, detective with the Kingsville Police Department. “Basic necessities are some of the first things that assure them that they have something to start off with as they face their uphill battle.”

The Kingsville domestic violence unit sees hundreds of families in the area, handling cases ranging from rape to a mother with eight children leaving domestic abuse. “We are grateful for the giving of our future generations,” Ochoa said.

Kappa Psi students will donate 50 bags to the American Pharmacy Association (APhA) Project SHINE. Project SHINE (Service & Help through Inter-professional Networking Experience) is geared to meet the specific needs of colonias (rural, unincorporated communities), with students providing health screenings and health education to the indigent population along with students from other health care fields.

“Our ultimate goal is to someday establish our own clinic in the colonias with the help of medical students, nursing students and dental students,” Dang said.

Students plan to distribute more bags this year after they collect items to fill bags.

TO DONATE: Students are collecting additional items, and some that you can donate are razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, wash cloths, socks of all sizes, shampoos, floss, face towels and anything used for daily cleaning. Send donations to Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, 1010 West Avenue B, Kingsville, Texas, 78363, or call (361) 221-0606 for more information.

— Cheri Shipman

You may also like
military medicine training course
Texas A&M medical students get hands-on tactical military medicine training
Making the impossible, possible: Alan Leifeste, MD
Portable ultrasound machine
A new use for portable ultrasounds in emergency medicine
Responding to Harvey