ELIDA — The Human Happiness Movement seeks to solve an oft-unnoticed problem: children whose families cannot afford a regular supply of personal hygiene products.
Founded by Elida High School graduate Gillian Cox, the non-profit group will distribute nearly 1,000 drawstring bags filled with essentials like shampoo, hair conditioner, soap, body wipes, toothpaste, deodorant and, for the older girls, feminine hygiene products, so students don’t have to go without.
Cox hopes it will be the first of many distributions, supplying local youth with products they’re often too embarrassed to ask for on their own.
“I want to take that burden off of them,” Cox said.
The problem came to Cox’s attention after she adopted a family for Christmas, a tradition she and her husband started with their children years ago to help other families buy gifts for their children.
But Cox noticed that some of the children were asking for personal hygiene products instead.
“(My daughter) asked why kids were asking for that,” Cox said. “She couldn’t quite wrap her head around (the idea) that some kids just don’t have that. And then I was thinking, what happens when Christmas is over? They get these items for Christmas, but then they run out and don’t have them anymore.”
Cox, a dance instructor, started collecting donations at Lyn’s Academy of Dance. Other studios have since joined the effort, which has also expanded to businesses like Northwest Dental Center and Dash & Joey’s.
Cox is now distributing those supplies to Allen County schools to ensure kids have shampoo and toothpaste before summer break. Cox plans to drop off supplies at least three times each year, coinciding with the start of the school year, summer break and the holidays.
“I don’t think a kid should have to ask for basic hygiene necessities for Christmas,” she said.