Members of the local Kappa Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International recently donated a variety of items to The Essentials Closet at the First Congregational Church on Eustis Parkway in Waterville, according to a news release from Kay Grindall.

Mark Wilson, pastor, initiated the idea of The Essentials Closet about a year ago, noting that the area has the local soup kitchen, evening sandwich program, the food pantry, and homeless shelter. In none of those places can people get the essentials — laundry detergent, toilet paper, dish detergent, shampoo, paper towels, tissues, bath soap, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes, diapers, baby wipes and toothpaste.

“Furthermore, these items cannot be purchased with their EBT cards and state assistance programs,” said Pete Downing, director of the program with his wife, Lora, of Sidney, according to the release.

Some members of St. Mark’s Church have chosen to fill the needs of diapers and feminine hygiene items.

“We recently had 1,500 diapers delivered by this church. This is a huge blessing and will be of such great help to many of your young mothers,” said Lora Downing, according to the release. “People need to feel clean and have clean clothes in order to go to work and have their children go to school bathed and in clean clothes.”

The Essentials Closet is staffed by three or four volunteers and is open the last two weeks of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday and Friday. Since April 17, they have served 580 different people, and some come every month.

“We average about 180 people per month from all over Central Maine,” said Lora Downing, according to the release.

Delta Kappa Gamma is an international organization of women educators from around the world. One of the primary strands of the mission is service to local communities. There are 16 chapters in the state of Maine.

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