Johnson County Crisis Center aims to collect toilet paper


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The Crisis Center of Johnson County can’t buy toilet paper.

More precisely, restrictions on the Food Bank’s spending require that its budget be spent on food and not on such household items as toilet paper, paper towels, and diapers.

The Crisis Center kicked off its third-annual TP the Crisis Center drive on Monday, soliciting donations of toilet paper from the community.

Harmony Hauser, the communications coordinator for the center, said the drive is an important way to collect items the center wants to provide, but may not be able to purchase.

“We have a strong need for toilet paper and other items such as laundry detergent, baby diapers, and stuff like that,” she said. “We are not able to purchase those with our funds, but we are able to provide them through donations and drives like this.”

Hauser said toilet paper is one of the most requested non-food items at the food bank. She said last year’s drive brought in more than 350 pounds of toilet paper, or 1,660 individual rolls.

Hauser said an exception to the funding restrictions exists for financial donors’ money that state specify they wish for their donation to be spent on non-food items, like toilet paper. She said in that case, the center is able to use the donation to purchase items at a price slightly below retail.  She stressed the Crisis Center’s services are available to anyone in need.

“We do not have any restrictions for our clients to be helped in the Food Bank,” she said. “Our clients are able to determine when they’re in need.”

Hauser said some local businesses are helping with the center’s monthlong event, including Iowa City Landscaping and Garden Center, which is helping local charitable organizations such as the Crisis Center by throwing a benefit event. This weekend’s Iowa City Landscaping Open House and Benefit is designed to aid the Crisis Center, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, and Shelter House.

Iowa City Landscaping store manager Dena Davis said this is the second year they’ve held the annual open house.

“Last year, it was very successful; we were very happy with the amount of donations we collected,” she said. “We look forward to getting more supplies for them this year.”

Hauser said the Crisis Center received more than 200 rolls of toilet paper last year through the open house.

Davis said the store, which began accepting donations for the benefit Monday, has received many items, including toilet paper, diapers, and a winter coat. She said customers were receptive last year to the donation-discount incentive — customers receive a discount at the store if they bring in an item on the “wish list,” a combined list of items of which the three organizations are in need. 

“We were more than pleased to be able to do it this year,” she said. “We look forward to getting more supplies for them this year.”

Kristie Doser, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, said the open house helped her organization better provide for the approximately 40 people per night to whom they provide shelter.

“The thing I love about Iowa City Landscaping and other local businesses is they try to come up with creative ways to support us,” she said. “And by doing a drive like this, they really get to some basic needs that can be very expensive for our program.”

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