Remember the run on toilet paper in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic? Or the bare shelves that once housed canisters of disinfectant wipes? Those products may once again be well stocked in supermarkets, but the need for them remains, especially among vulnerable populations, including cancer patients.
“Some people don’t have the resources to purchase these items in stores,” Shawnda Barrow, client services liaison, Cancer Services, said. “Cancer patients experience so many needs throughout their journey and it’s important for them to maintain clean environments as a part of their healing.”
Helping Cancer Services to fill in these gaps is Associated Grocers. The Baton Rouge-based grocery distributor spent May 19 loading up an 18-wheeler with the highly-sought after toilet paper, wipes and other cleaning products to be delivered to Cancer Services on Lobdell Boulevard. The donation, totaling more than $100,000, will go directly to the organization’s clients. Shawnda is acutely aware of the need for these items, saying the wipes, and especially hand sanitizer, are requested almost every time a client comes to the supplies window inside the facility.
“A lot of clients worry because they are taking chemo,” Shawnda said. “They don’t want to be around a lot of people. I feel like this is an avenue for them to be able to get some necessities without having to visit a grocery store.”
Beyond keeping this sector of immunocompromised patients safe, the donation will help to alleviate some of the financial burdens many are facing with a cancer diagnosis as costs rise for everything, including other necessities such as food, gas and much more.
“I don’t think people realize a lot of cancer clients struggle financially,” Nancy Gosserand, director, Cancer Services said, recalling examples she’s seen firsthand. “Whenever you have a corporate donor who is kind enough to think of a community nonprofit, that is huge. Something as simple as toilet paper can make a huge impact. It’s truly the little things.”
As two Associated Grocers team members unloaded the supplies, Shawnda and Nancy checked the inventory, both with huge smiles on their faces knowing what the products would mean for the clients they serve. Just like the shelves could not stay stocked in March 2020, the women say these donated items won’t stick around long enough to collect dust.
“I can’t wait to see the joy on peoples’ faces when we start to give these items out,” Shawnda said. “I know what’s coming – it’s going to be great!”