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Published October 29, 2013, 10:03 AM

United Way project collects personal care items for the needy in Grand Forks

Tables full of toothpaste, soap, shaving cream and other personal care items lined a conference room at the United Way office in Grand Forks Monday afternoon.

By: John Hageman, Grand Forks Herald

Tables full of toothpaste, soap, shaving cream and other personal care items lined a conference room at the United Way office in Grand Forks Monday afternoon.

Slowly but surely, that supply dwindled throughout the day as the organization distributes donated items to caseworkers and other social service agencies in the area for their clients. Until Wednesday, groups will pick up items donated through the area United Way’s annual Undies Sundays drive for items that, while essential, can’t be purchased using food stamps.

“This is a need,” said United Way President and CEO Pat Berger. “If you have trouble financially putting food on the table, you probably also have problems with non-food items.”

Now in its ninth year, the Undies Sundays drive was originally intended for underwear donations.

“You could go to the thrift store and get a coat and clothing and stuff, but somehow I don’t think you want to get your underwear there,” Berger said. More than 5,000 items were donated in the campaign’s first year.

The campaign expanded to include personal care items since then. This year, it gathered more than 15,500 items and about 15 churches participated.

That’s down a bit from last year, according to Lisa Martinez, the marketing and campaign coordinator for the United Way. But she said businesses like the Dollar Tree and Gate City Bank chipped in this year. Members of the Altru Professional Nurses Committee also helped sort and count the items.

The United Way received cash donations during the campaign, which they will use for diapers, Berger said.

“That’s the biggest need,” Berger said.

Items not picked up this week will go to local food shelves.

“That way when they’re going to get their food, they can also pick up some of those items,” Martinez said.

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