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Spreading cleanliness: Heartland students prepare hygiene kits for those individuals leaving the criminal justice system

By Joseph Slacian

Students from the Heartland Career Center’s Criminal Justice classes spent part of Friday, Jan. 8, bagging personal hygiene kits as part of a community service project.

The kits will be presented to individuals needing assistance getting re-established in their community following incarceration or while involved in the criminal justice system.

The bags were made possible through a $1,300 grant from the Community Foundation of Wabash County to Growing Grounds, a not-for-profit agency within the Wabash Church of the Brethren. Growing Grounds received the grant at the end of 2020.

“Although these clients (inmates leaving corrections) may receive financial assistance through the state, those monies cannot be used for hygiene supplies to meet their personal needs,” Growing Grounds President Marti Striker said. “(The Growing Grounds committee) attempted to address those needs but needed additional financial assistance to fulfill them.

“We are grateful for the grant the Wabash Community Foundation provided to facilitate this need,” Mrs. Striker, a retired Wabash County Probation Officer, added.

The Criminal Justice classes, taught by former Wabash County Sheriff and Growing Grounds board member Leroy Striker, adopted the organization several years ago as its community service program and project. The class performs a community service project each school year.

“This gives them a little bit of a head start” when leaving the criminal justice system, Striker told his students.

Each student in the classes filled 10 bags. Male students filled bags for men while the female students filled bags for the women. In all, 400 bags were filled.

The kits included such things as soap, razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, wet wipes and body wipes, and shampoo and condition. Bags for females also included feminine hygiene projects.

Some assume that the individuals are coming out of the criminal justice system and going to a home, Striker told the students. But that may not always be the case, and some end up living on the streets. The kits, he said, will help them maintain personal hygiene.

The kids will be distributed through the Wabash County Court Services (Probation Department and Community Corrections), Growing Grounds and the Wabash Church of the Brethren.

Posted on 2021 Jan 12