BEND, Ore. - For the thousands of homeless students on the High Desert, going to school can be nerve racking. Especially if they don't have a place to shower.
"I think all of us had a child in the class that was dirty, and other kids will tease them, or at least shy away a little bit," said Sandra Croney, a Kits for Kids organizer.
For the past six years,"Kits for Kids" at the first Presbyterian Church in Bend has been helping to fix that -- one shampoo bottle or box of soap at a time.
"Our first year, we did about 500 to 600 bags, and since then it's been 1,000," Croney said.
Handmade, donated cloth bags are filled with nine hygiene items, including toothpaste and toilet paper -- all things that can't be purchased with food stamps.
The FAN (Family Access Network) advocates then pick them up and deliver them to all the schools.
"There's just a huge need for the homeless students that's just floored me," said Jan Meredith, a volunteer for Kits for Kids.
Items that most kids see as everyday objects, other kids look at like Christmas presents.
"We've had thank you notes from families, and they said that this is like a Christmas gift. These are items they haven't seen in two or three months," said Marilyn Feis.
Jan nominated Kits for Kids for this month's Pay it Forward. On behalf of Mid-Oregon Credit Union, Co-Energy Propane and NewsChannel 21, we surprised the group with $500.
"To get $500 makes a huge difference. Each one of our kits cost $12 to make, and so that's a big chunk," Croney said.
"This is fantastic. Whatever we can do to make things better, I'm there," Meredith said.
The women say they wish there wasn't such a high need for these kits. But as long as there is, they'll be there for the kids.
"It just makes it so worth while for all the time we do put into it, it's so well worth it," Feis said.
If you would like to help donate items or make bags for Kits for Kids, visit bendfp.org.
If you'd like to nominate a group or person for our Pay it Forward series, click here for the submission page.