Many people will toss items like shampoo, toilet paper and laundry detergent into their shopping cart without a second thought.
But for some struggling families whose budgets are beyond tight, those kinds of items can pose a dilemma.
“There are people who are having to make choices between buying these essentials and paying their rent, paying their electric bills,” said Holli Williams, director of Martha’s Cupboard, a Richland-based program that aims to help.
The group provides personal care items that aren’t covered by food stamps.
“(The help) gives them more room in their budget to be able to pull themselves up out of the negative situation they’re in financially and be working toward a healthier, better life,” Williams said.
This holiday season, Martha’s Cupboard is hoping for some help keeping its shelves stocked. It could use financial donations, along with toilet paper, clothes for babies up to 3 months and other infant items, new kitchen towels and potholders and men’s and women’s deodorant.
The group also needs travel-sized shampoo and other toiletries. “We’re running low on the travel-sized (items),” Williams said. “That would be just a huge thing — if people have those lying around. We all have those floating around our house.”
Martha’s Cupboard, based at Central United Protestant Church in Richland, was started more than a decade ago by Alan and Dee Barnett.
It’s helped thousands since then, including about 2,900 this year alone. The group connects to clients through referrals made by local agencies from the Benton-Franklin Health District and Tri-Cities Community Health to World Relief.
Its name is a nod to the Biblical figure Martha, who is depicted in Gospel accounts as opening her home to and serving Jesus and his disciples.
“When the Barnetts were trying to decide on a name, Dee thought of Martha and realized that she embodied what this fledgling organization was trying to do — provide the basic necessities for people in need,” Williams wrote in an email to the Herald.
The group runs on donations and volunteer help. Sondra Grumbein of Benton City, a board member, has been involved for several years.
She sees Martha’s Cupboard as filling a hole — providing practical help to meet a need in the community.
“To me, it’s an awesome ministry,” she said. “(The help) is so direct — right to where it needs to be.”
Donations to Martha’s Cupboard can be dropped off at Central United Protestant Church, 1124 Stevens Drive, Richland.
For more information, call the church at 509-943-1143. Martha’s Cupboard also is on Facebook.