Students distribute hygiene kits to homeless through nonprofit


Hattie Engelke

Volunteers distribute hygiene kits for the homeless through the non-profit SustainABLE start.

Charlotte Accola , Staff Writer

SustainABLE Start’s is a non-profit that seeks to empower and defend homeless New Yorkers by providing access to free health and hygiene packs. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is entirely student-led, with participants from schools such as Dominican Academy, Bard, Trevor Day, the Dwight School, Brooklyn Tech, Jericho Senior High, Stuyvesant, and Dalton. 

To fulfill their mission, SustainABLE Start has been distributing health and hygiene packs to the homeless and to drop-in shelters throughout NYC. They attempt to remain conscious of environmental concerns using as many fair trade and naturally-sourced products as possible.

With hygiene becoming more critical during the pandemic, SustainABLE Start has added new items such as hand sanitizer and masks into their kits to help homeless New Yorkers stay safe, and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Instead of handing out the kits themselves, members take resources to shelters for distribution. 

To stay connected amidst the pandemic, SustainABLE Start has organized regular Zoom meetings and found safe methods to distribute kits to those in need. Volunteers assemble kits with masks, gloves, hand washing, sanitizing, and clean workspaces while remaining socially distanced. 

Hattie Engelke ’23 joined SustainABLE Start in April. She works as a communicator, arranging events and talking to companies. She is currently working with Kimby Heil, the Director of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, to arrange a donation drive. Engelke has been giving out items like toothpaste, tampons and pads, socks, and deodorant. She believes that by joining with others to help those in need she can help during these troubling times. 

“There are roughly 60,000 homeless people in New York, and [SustainABLE Start] wants to be able to help as many as we can,” Engelke said. “This gives us a sense of connection with our community.”

Connect with SustainABLE Start here.