The eighth-grade class of Raleigh Hills K-8 School has gathered more than 1,000 toiletry items during the first week of a service project designed to benefit homeless high school students in Beaverton.

The drive kicked off May 23 with 147 items collected for the nonprofit Beaverton Youth Second Home to distribute. The hygiene and grooming items are going to 313 students in the district who lack permanent homes or dependable means of support.

The All School Toiletry Drive, which racked up more than 1,000 items as of Monday, will run through Thursday, June 9.

Beaverton resident Karen Bernhardt, the mother of a Raleigh Hills eighth-grader and two seventh-graders, said a group of parents encouraged the eighth-graders to take on a service project before they graduated from Raleigh Hills school.

After considering the needs of the district's students, the Raleigh Hills eighth-graders voted to take on the toiletry collection challenge.

'The kids overwhelmingly wanted to do the toiletry drive,' Bernhardt said. 'We've made posters and flyers. The first week the kids brought in over 1,000 items. It is amazing.'

With Raleigh Hills fifth-graders helping out their elder schoolmates with the collecting, sorting and counting, the drive is kicking into high gear. Donors are being sought through word of mouth, churches, Boy Scouts and other organizations, as well as through social media websites such as Facebook (visit 'Friends of Raleigh Hills K-8').

Here are the kinds of items the students seek to collect:

  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Bars of soap
  • Powdered laundry detergent
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste/toothbrushes
  • Razors
  • Tampons/maxi pads.
  • Donations can be dropped off at collection barrels at the front entrance of Raleigh Hills K-8 School, at 5225 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road.

    Bernhardt explained that when they learned and thought about the approximately 1,500 homeless students in the Beaverton School District, students rose to the occasion.

    'This is right here in your backyard,' she said. 'You might not be able to give them a home, but you can help them be clean.'

    She credits Dave Macomber, who teaches language arts and social studies to eighth-graders, with keeping the students motivated and the project moving forward.

    'He's pretty serious about this,' she said of the teacher's service project commitment. 'He oversees them. I just supervise the kids. It's remarkable what these kids are doing.'

    Bernhardt said it's rewarding to see the reaction of the students when they realize the extent to which many students need assistance.

    She's encouraging students to sacrifice a daily luxury, such as a $4 gourmet coffee from the local java joint, and channeling that money into an item to donate.

    'The kids go 'Oh, yeah!'' she said. This is not about raiding your parents' cupboards. These kids are getting it. They're understanding how they have these things, and other kids don't have a home.

    'They'll be sorting and say, 'Wow, they do need razors!' Something in their brain is connecting, that the kids they're collecting for don't have any of this stuff.'

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