Combining Spanish and Service: Annual Hygiene Kit Drive in Its Fifth Year


Ashley Hawkins

Spanish 2 teachers collect and organize hygiene kits for those in need.

Vanessa Su, Staff Reporter

Taking on its fifth year at La Salle, the annual hygiene kit drive is a staple in the Spanish 2 curriculum, connecting an act of service to the classroom.

Started by Spanish teachers Ms. Lisa Moran and Ms. Karen Kessler, the initial goal of the drive was to do something meaningful for their unit on hygiene and daily routine. “Ms. Kessler and I started it to partner with our curriculum and [wanted] to attach service to something that we’re learning in the classroom too,” Ms. Moran said.

These hygiene kits will go towards the many people who are unable to afford these essentials. “Being able to take care of yourself and your personal hygiene is kind of part of your dignity and who you are as a person and everybody has that right to maintain their dignity,” Ms. Moran said. “I just want to continue to support it in whatever way we can.”

Students are able to give back to their community by bringing in a variety of hygiene products such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, socks, feminine hygiene products, and other essentials.

Usually, once all the supplies have been collected, Ms. Moran, with the help of many students, sort and assemble all the kits which are given to the St. Vincent de Paul chapter at St. Rita’s Parish in northeast Portland, which became the place of choice for donations with the help of two previous La Salle students and their parent, Darlene Rivera, who works at St. Rita’s. “We have two students who are alumni who attend that parish, and so it started around the time they were both here,” Ms. Moran said. “And we’ve just continued to work with St. Rita’s.”

Even during the pandemic, the hygiene kit drive was still able to thrive by allowing people to drop supplies off through a makeshift drive-thru in the La Salle parking lot. “That was a crazy, huge success, more than I ever thought we could get,” Ms. Moran said. They were able to put together many kits that year, with supplies left over as well.

Usually the drive ends with an excess of certain supplies that don’t fit into the kits, especially bar soap and toothpaste. But those extra supplies do not go to waste, extra bar soap goes to St. Rita’s anyway, and extra toothpaste goes to a dental non-profit that is run by La Salle alumna Maria George and her brother Luke George.

However, this year they are short on all the supplies needed. The most kits they’ve ever collected is 150 kits, and this year’s goal is 100, but there have only been about 50 kits collected so far. “We’re behind this year in comparison to any other year that we’ve done it,” Ms. Moran said. They are down on socks, shampoo, deodorant, razors, feminine hygiene products, combs, washcloths, tissues, and body wash.

As an incentive to encourage students to bring in supplies for the drive, Ms. Moran hosts class competitions for her Spanish 2 classes, pledging that whoever brings in the most supplies will get a “party day” instead of a regular class. Nonetheless, all students are encouraged to bring supplies in, not just Spanish 2 students. Donations can be brought in and dropped off at the front office or at any Spanish classroom until Wednesday, Dec. 14.