Contributed photo/Coates' Cabinet inventory awaiting distribution

OCRC combats hygiene poverty

  • Thu May 6th, 2021 4:54pm
  • News

OICF’s GiveOrcas spring catalog is underway to a successful start. Orcas Community Resource Center’s Coates’ Cabinet Hygiene Bank is featured in the catalog. OCRC has requested $10,000 in funding. Orcas Community Resource Center (OCRC) created Coates’ Cabinet Hygiene Bank to combat hygiene poverty and promote wellness, which is a significant part of its mission. “Islanders struggling to cover their rent, food and heating bills have little left over in their budget to pay for the everyday household and personal hygiene products most of us take for granted,” stated Erin O’Dell, Executive Director of OCRC. “Clients are more likely to skip purchasing hygiene supplies when money and food is scarce.”

Established in 2019, Coates’ Cabinet Hygiene Bank often acts as an introduction to the Orcas Community Resource Center for many of its clients. Each month, clients may choose an allotment of essential household and personal hygiene products from current inventory. “At its inception, 70 households were enrolled. We provided 1,480 Coates’ Cabinet services last year alone,” shared O’Dell.

“We provide shampoo, conditioner and body wash so clients don’t resort to using harsh dish soap for their bathing needs. We provide toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss as oral hygiene is a critical part of maintaining one’s health, particularly for children. We provide TP, tampons and pads, baby wipes and diapers as no one should have to suffer the humiliation of being soiled because they don’t have proper sanitary supplies.”

The need for a Hygiene Bank existed pre-Covid; the events of 2020 just put that need into acute focus. When there was a run on toilet paper, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer at the start of the pandemic, OCRC was able to provide these products along with clean PPE to clients in need. Hygiene poverty is a global issue. A study published in BMC Women’s Health suggests that 1 in 10 US college students doesn’t have access to menstrual products. The Hygiene Bank in the UK states that at least 1/3 of the population cannot afford personal hygiene supplies due to budgetary constraints. Wherever in the world you may find yourself, there is a good chance a neighbor is struggling with personal and household sanitation.

As an integral part of the safety network on Orcas, OCRC works in collaboration with other emergency responders to ensure Islanders stay safe and secure. “Coates’ Cabinet Hygiene Bank ensures that all of our neighbors stay clean, healthy and cared for,” said O’Dell. “We provide dignity for our clients. It doesn’t get more essential than that.”

You can get involved to show your support for this important program. Check out OCRC’s listing in the GiveOrcas catalog at or donate directly to OCRC via their website: Any amount helps!


Contributed photo/Coates' Cabinet inventory awaiting distribution