AUGUSTA — Business and recreational travelers alike often find the toiletries that await them in hotel and motel rooms handy. Sometimes they’re a bit of luxury and sometimes they replace what was left at home.

For a completely different group of people, hotel toiletries rise far above the level of convenience — they’re a necessity.

Starting earlier this year, several hotel properties in the Augusta area began to round up the toiletry items that can’t be used again by guests, as well as sheets, furniture and other items, to donate them to the Augusta Community Warming Center.

“I’m hoping the people who come to the warming center see that the community doesn’t turn its back on them,” said Christopher Lothridge, director of sales at the Hampton Inn in Augusta. The Augusta native, who has worked in hotel properties in Waterville and Auburn, returned to Augusta earlier this year to take the post at the Hampton Inn, and he brought with him this donation initiative, which he had taken part in at other properties.

Donating items that the hotels and motels no longer can use makes sense, he said.

“Hilton standards don’t allow some things to be reused,” Lothridge said. “So instead of throwing them out, we donate them.”

Lothridge has contacted other lodging properties in the city to see if they would join in. One of them already donates those items to another organization, and another is on board with the project.

The Warming Center, an initiative of the United Way of Kennebec Valley, offers a warm, safe place to get out of the cold from December to March for people who have no place else to go.

“Sometimes, they have been evicted, or they were recently incarcerated, and they need some place to go,” Warming Center Director Deidrah Stanchfield said. “One young man came because his parents kicked him out. He’s 18, and they told him to figure it out.”

The center operates with the support of nearly two dozen area churches, businesses, organizations and a grant from the Elsie & William Viles Foundation. In addition to a warm place to spend a day, it provides free coffee with fixings to all who come, and emergency backpacks with high-calorie snacks, toiletries and new socks to the people who are in dire need.

“This winter was harder than most,” Stanchfield said. “More people are in more need.”

What the hotels and motels deliver is greatly appreciated, Stanchfield said.

“It absolutely gets in the hands of the people who need it the most,” she said.

The Warming Center, which moved to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in December, has ended its daily operations for the season, but plans are to have it open every Tuesday, starting April 12. The reason, Stanchfield said, is that people are relying more and more on the Warming Center and the support it offers.

The center has a limited budget, so volunteers will set aside a supply of donated toiletries for its backpacks. The balance of donations is destined for the Every Day Basics Essentials Pantry that St. Mark’s Episcopal Church runs. On the first and third Saturdays of the month, the pantry provides essentials such as soap, shampoo, detergent, toilet paper and other staples to those who need them.

“It’s a good thing,” the Rev. Rebecca Grant said. Grant serves in the capacity of deacon and is the coordinator for the pantry. “Very little that comes in is unused.”

The pantry serves about 250 people, many of whom are refugees who aren’t able to work yet.

The church also operates Addie’s Attic, a clothing bank. While it doesn’t accept household items, it is looking for bed linens, something Lothridge and his colleagues can provide.

“It may not seem like a very big deal,” Stanchfield said, “but sheets are expensive. Having a nice, quality set of sheets on the bed makes all the difference.”

Stanchfield has also found takers for the lamps that have been donated after a hotel renovation project.

When Lothridge first pitched the idea to the Hampton Inn staff, one of the associates mentioned she had been helped by the warming center and appreciated what they had done for her. With the staff’s cooperation, the donation box gets filled pretty quickly.

Lothridge said when he was growing up, he wanted nothing more than to leave Augusta. After he had, he wanted to come home. The reason, he said, is the kind of people who live here and the community they make.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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