• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Teen delivers 8,150 personal care items to food pantry

When Tara Barbour and her family delivered 5,031 cases – totaling 18,593 personal care items – to the Food Pantry for Woodford County, she was thanked for making her largest donation yet.

It comes during the holiday season when everyone deserves “something special,” says the Woodford County High School senior.

“Giving is better than receiving – 110 percent,” says Tara, 17.

This tradition of giving began four years ago when Tara was a 12-year-old volunteering alongside her mom at the food pantry. She was determined to make a difference in the lives of others and made her fifth delivery of personal care items Nov. 26.

“All these people are special, and they all have a very special place in my heart,” says Tara.

So even though Tara may not know all the families who come to the Food Pantry for Woodford County, she does know they all have needs beyond groceries.

Sharon Hardin, executive director of the local food pantry, says the nonprofit organization cannot purchase personal care items for clients because of its limited budget. So Tara’s donations are much appreciated.

“Because personal care items are not only essential for health,” explains Hardin, “it’s also a self-esteem issue,” with many families having a difficult time purchasing essentials like laundry detergent for washing clothes.

This year’s donation from Tara’s Toiletry Drive included toilet paper, bars of soaps, bottles of shampoo, adult and child toothbrushes, “because kids deserve something special too,” says Tara.

Besides being supported by her family and church, Southside Christian, Tara was able to share this tradition of giving with a foreign exchange student from Austria.

“We got to do something for the community so I think she really enjoyed it and I do too,” says Tara.

Chiara Heidenreich, who has been living with Tara’s family since late-July, adds, “I’m pretty proud of her too because not everyone does that.”

Because the need for personal care items has grown, food pantry board President Bill Phelps says the nonprofit has now begun asking for donations of personal care items.

“So we can have a continuous supply,” he explains, “because (Tara’s donation) won’t carry us through the (next) year.”

Besides receiving food donations during recent local food drives, Phelps says the Salvation Army has helped the Food Pantry for Woodford County bolster its supply of government commodities including juices and cereals. “So we want to encourage people to … ring the bell and donate because that money’s coming directly back here … and some of it (about $1,500 a month) helps (the food pantry),” he says.

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