Club Spotlight: Hygiene for the Homeless Club

Hygiene for the Homeless Club focuses on raising awareness about societal issues such as food insecurity, barriers to housing, systematic discrimination, and implicit biases.

To the average person living in Canada, the ability to purchase basic hygiene necessities such as toothpaste, soap, and feminine hygiene products may not seem extraordinary. Many of us may take for granted the ease with which we may acquire these items. But for individuals who find themselves homeless, these products are often difficult, if not impossible, to afford. Enter the TRUSU Hygiene for the Homeless Club.

Founded in 2023 by Alivia Mercer and Denzel Marican, the TRUSU Hygiene for the Homeless Club was established to enable TRU students to “collaborate on supporting the homeless community in Kamloops” through charitable deeds. The club also focuses on raising awareness about societal issues such as food insecurity, barriers to housing, systematic discrimination, and implicit biases.

According to the 2023 Kamloops Point-in-Time report, homelessness in the city has increased by 51 per cent since 2019. Among other notable statistics, the report states that 84 per cent of respondents are considered “chronically homeless,” while 55 per cent of respondents reported having experienced “abuse or conflict” as contributing factors to their situations. The obstacles that individuals suffer as a result of homelessness are multifaceted, going beyond the basic need for food and shelter. As stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, such conditions that homeless people face not only compromise their physical health but also perpetuate social isolation and marginalization within society.

Co-President Mercer said her passion for serving others was ignited during her time in high school when she dedicated some of her free time to serving disadvantaged communities at food banks and shelters. During this time, she became aware of the scarcity of hygienic products, especially feminine products, at charities and shelters that house homeless individuals. Mercer added that the lack of hygienic products “can be a barrier for people to get jobs” and that having basic hygienic products is a privilege that is often overlooked within communities.  Similarly, Marican’s volunteer background also intertwined with Mercer’s experience, which created a shared sense of purpose and empathy for individuals facing barriers to housing.

One way that the TRUSU Hygiene for the Homeless Club has actively addressed the need for hygienic products is through the mobilization of resources and the collective goodwill of the TRU community to provide much-needed support for the homeless community in Kamloops.

“We collect hygienic products from the TRU community like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, moisturizers and feminine hygiene products,” Marican said. “[We] collect them all then donate them to places that house people in Kamloops through food banks and shelters across Kamloops.”

Marican added that products also go to community kitchens, which help distribute the items to those in need.

This year, the club has received over 500 donations from the TRU community. 

Through their initiative, Mercer and Marican have demonstrated the importance of collective action in advocating for the overlooked needs of the homeless community, and they continue to inspire others to do the same. For more information about the club, visit their Instagram page or email

Ellen Kazembe can be reached at