Personal Care Kits

Dwight Hall at Yale occasionally arranges for the assembly of personal care kits as an on-campus service project. Kits contain a variety of travel-sized health and hygiene items that are useful for people experiencing homelessness or temporary housing insecurity. Dwight Hall provides all the necessary supplies, though we welcome contributions from hotels to restock our inventory.

We are very pleased to offer this project during the 2023 Yale Reunions and welcome attendees to drop into Dwight Hall, meet up with other service-minded alumni, assemble a kit, and personalize it with a note. This is also a great activity to complete with children. We simply ask that you help your child reflect on the experience and consider age-appropriate context for understanding the issues.

Dwight Hall will distribute kits to a number of community partner organizations, mutual aid associations, and outreach volunteers. They are most often given to individuals experiencing homelessness, but are also helpful for those re-entering society after incarceration, newly arrived refugees and immigrants, and anyone experiencing temporary housing insecurity.

Where will the kits be distributed?

Kits will be distributed wherever they are needed most urgently. Dwight Hall’s distribution network is made possible by its extensive relationships with community partner organizations and advocates in the Greater New Haven community. Some likely destinations for the kits include:

Liberty Community Services – an organization working to end homelessness by practicing harm reduction and providing supportive housing. This video describes their work.

Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen – In addition to providing daily dinners, DESK operates New Haven’s low-barrier Downtown day program for people who are on the street, offering basic needs and a variety of services to connect folks to shelter, housing, and income assistance.

Sunrise Café – This daily free breakfast café, rooted in values of dignity and respect, offers guests access to resources while hosting sit-down meals with servers and featuring varied menus, emulating a restaurant.

Cornell Scott Hill Health Center Homeless Outreach Team – this video shows Phil Costello, APRN and his team in action practicing street medicine and this article from 2018 describes their work.

Amistad Catholic Worker House – New Haven’s Catholic Worker community recently welcomed those displaced by the removal of a Tent City and have advocated for alternative forms of housing.

What is in the kits?

Personal care kits typically contain:

  • A 2-gallon exterior bag to hold all items. The 2-mill thickness is lightweight, but sturdy enough to be used as a dry bag after supplies are exhausted.
  • 1 pack of bathing wipes. These are durable enough to be used as cleansing wipes when no shower facilities are available.
  • 1 oz. bar soap for face and body.
  • 1 shampoo/conditioner bottle.
  • 1 deodorant stick.
  • Toothpaste.
  • 1 Toothbrush with Cover.
  • 1 Comb.
  • 1 Lip Balm.
  • 1 packet of pocket tissues.
  • 1 package of shaving razors.
  • 2 packets of shaving cream.
  • 1 emery board – fine and rough grit to help with nail health and prevent fungal infections.
  • triple antibiotic cream to prevent infections from cuts.
  • 6 band-aids
  • 4 packets of sanitizing hind wipes – moist towellettes that can also be used to wipe surfaces in public restrooms.
  • Sunscreen to help with exposure.
  • Menstruation pack including 5 maxi-pads and 5 tampons. This is contained within a gallon ziploc bag and can be quickly removed from the kit if it is not needed.
  • 1 pair of socks – including crew cotton-blend options for those who suffer from gout or need extra compression.

Volunteers are also provided with cardstock and asked to write a note of personal encouragement, provide an inspiring or uplifting quote or lyric, and/or create a drawing to personalize the kit.

assembled kit
Personal Care Kits assembled at May 2023 reunions

Thank you to the Classes of 1993, 1998, and alumni and friends who assembled and personalized 117 kits during the May and June 2023 reunion weekends!

Reflection Questions and Prompts

Dwight Hall encourages reflective practice and offers the following questions and prompts to consider during this activity:

  • Consider the utility of each supply as you pack your kit.
  • People experiencing homelessness often describe feeling invisible. How might health and personal hygiene exacerbate this feeling?
  • People who are housing insecure often do not have money to purchase items in bulk – or the ability to securely store their belongings. These kits are designed for short-term use. Dwight Hall was able to leverage bulk purchases and high-value donations (Bombas socks!) to make these kits possible at a price point of $12/kit. Kits are provided free of charge to recipients. How expensive would it be to purchase each of these items at CVS (or any similar store) as they were needed?
  • How can you help those who are vulnerable in your home community?

Did you Know? Other Facts to Consider

  • 2,930 individuals experienced homelessness on an average day in Connecticut in 2022, a 13% increase from 2021 (CT Coalition to End Homelessness).
  • 26% of New Haven households are severely housing cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half their income on housing (CT Data Haven).
  • Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) welcomed 903 newcomers to New Haven in 2022, including an influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Some of our kits will go to individuals experiencing housing transition as they build a new life in our community.
  • Menstrual products were assessed sales tax in Connecticut until 2018. Public welfare programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) do not allow for purchase of feminine hygiene products. Learn more about barriers to access for basic human needs via Connecticut Diaper Bank.