(NewsNation Now) — An initiative in Atlanta is turning trash cans into mobile hygiene closets for the city’s most vulnerable children.
Johari Dozier began the Clean Cargo Project in 2018 when he found out how many students were in need of essential products.
“This project started when I spoke to one of my cousins who was a teacher and support specialist at the time,” Dozier said. “She told me how the majority of her students did not have the daily necessities such as hygiene items.”
“She told me how a lot of them came from backgrounds where their parents could not afford deodorant and other hygiene items. They could barely afford to pay rent,” he said. “So I thought I could do something about it. I created the means and started after thinking about a vision.”
Dozier’s vision led him to begin filling trash cans, or mobile cargo units, with donated items that Atlanta elementary students could use to better their hygiene.
Dozier says students who lack basic hygiene essentials are at risk for bullying and low academic performance.
Just one mobile cargo unit can hold around 500 items and is filled with essential products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant and shampoo before being delivered to schools across the city.
Each unit can help about 50 students at a time.
The Clean Cargo Project’s mission is to improve character and self-esteem and create a healthier next generation.
“We service Title 1 elementary schools, which is 40% below the poverty level,” Dozier said. “We just want to make sure they have everything they need.”
The Clean Cargo Project works with different community groups, organizations and businesses.
“They get a chance to fill the trash can up as much as they can,” Dozier said.
At one point, Dozier had a partnership with a doughnut shop called Sublime Doughnuts that led him to assist with fundraising day and night out of the shop.
“I’m gonna challenge myself,” Dozier said. “I said I need 10 more trash cans filled up. And I’m not leaving this doughnut shop until I fill up all 10.”
Dozier said it’s not just hygiene his project is addressing; these items also help students to feel more confident going to school and prevent things like bullying, helping them to focus on what matters most — learning.
“We want to give kids an equal opportunity to do their best in school. How you smell, whether you brushed your teeth or if your clothes are clean and neat affect one’s self-image,” Dozier said.
“If you have a hard time getting food, you may not have funds for deodorant,” he said. “We don’t want to see any kid getting picked on because that child’s family couldn’t afford a tube of toothpaste. We want kids to feel good about themselves and this gives those in a position to help the opportunity to give back. That is so important around this time of year.”
It is Dozier’s 2022 goal to fill up 100 mobile cargo units for students and families in need and raise $1,000 for each one filled.
You can learn more about the Clean Cargo Project on their website.