Note to Givers

Someone reminded me of this recently, so I’ll remind everyone of it:

Food stamps do not pay for hygiene products, like soap and shampoo.

Many families are on food stamps. Whether they have one parent or two, a lot of families have accepted a little help in feeding their kids.

If your kids go to school dirty, someone will eventually call DCFS. This seems a little unfair– if you need help feeding your kids, don’t you also need help keeping them clean?

If you have people on your gift list who might be on food stamps, ask if they’d like some nice soaps and bath products for the holidays.

If you have kids on your gift list who you know are on food stamps, don’t bother asking– get them some kid-focused soaps and shampoos (stuff that’s blue or you can paint the bathtub with is good). Toothpaste, brushes, floss; these are all good items as well and make excellent stocking stuffers.

Really, stockings should just be filled with personal products, and then about 10% candy content, right? I know that advertisers want you to think “stocking stuffer” equals “$600 GPS,” but we know better, right?

Also, for families on food stamps, please remember that white vinegar can clean almost anything, including your clothes and hair. Whatever white vinegar can’t clean, baking soda can. Mayonnaise is a decent hair conditioner (not raw eggs, as I discovered…. you have to mix it with olive oil and make mayo first). White vinegar, baking soda, and mayo can all be purchased with your food stamps.

And if you have a washer and dryer, note that Consumer Reports’ conclusion about laundry soaps and laundry stone/ball thingies was that your clothes are just as clean if you run them through a washer without soap as if you wash them with soap. Your mileage may vary if you have hard water– if that’s the case, add vinegar or baking soda to the wash cycle, and you’ll be good to go.

For feminine hygiene products, the Diva cup and similar reusable products are an excellent investment. $30 once for a feminine product that lasts years, compared to about $5 in products (which, again, you can’t use food stamps to buy) each month.

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