Mississippi State University, in partnership with the Montgomery Leadership Capstone Project, is putting on its first annual toiletry drive. Students, faculty and community members can donate items to the toiletry drive to help the homeless around Mississippi.

Certain items can earn donors a certain amount of community service hours. Toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and wipes can earn the donor one service hour, and shampoo and conditioner are worth two service hours.

Donors can earn up to five community service hours. Drop off locations are located on the third floor of the Colvard Student Union in the Greek Life office, the second floor at the Holmes Cultural Diversity center, or any participating elementary, middle and high school in Starkville.

Keiaireyona Brown, an MSU junior, and Bethany Jones, an MSU senior, are co-directors for the toiletry drive for their Montgomery Leadership Capstone Project.

"We have reached out to the local schools, and I also plan on reaching out to some schools in Columbus to get as many as possible involved,"Jones said.

The entire community is encouraged to get involved in this outreach, and Brown and Jones hope to continue the drive in the coming spring semester. The goal is to reach 500 complete toiletry bags, and so far the outcome has been positive.

"This is close to my heart because I have a passion for giving back to people and communities," Jones said.  

Due to the service hours offered for participation and community involvement, Jones and Brown are hopeful they will reach their goal.

"The outcome so far has been well, and we have collected 42 items and have completed six toiletry bags," said Brown.

Both Brown and Jones will hand deliver the toiletry bags to each shelter as a way to give back to the communities of Mississippi. So far, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste and tissues are the more popular items being donated, and are much appreciated.

"We will split all the toiletry bags and will donate them to homeless shelters in Jackson, Meridian and Hattiesburg, Mississippi," Jones said. "We will also be offering more volunteer opportunities to pack and sort the toiletry bags when we get closer to the delivery days."

Five hundred of each item are needed to reach the end goal of 500 complete toiletry bags. Seven total homeless shelters will be reached with this outreach opportunity.

Abbie Pruett, an MSU junior and local children’s church worker, said she loves the idea of the toiletry drive.

"There are many people in not only our community, but also surrounding communities that are hurting, that we probably do not even know about,” Pruett said. "I love that students are being given the opportunity to give back to their community and help those in need."

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