Members of Professor Larinda Nilsen’s classes at UVU recently donated over 1,200 personal hygiene items to women confined to the mental health unit of the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah.
The assignment was originally given as an extra credit incentive and Nilsen encouraged her students to involve themselves in a relief effort for the female inmates of the prison.
“I think there is just your basic hygiene that you take for granted everyday,” said psychology student Stephanie Bezzant. “This was a group of women that didn’t have a budget fit for the hygiene they need. I wanted to help and even decided to include my family and friends in the volunteer effort and they all loved the idea.”
All of the women in the special unit of the prison currently struggle with a variety of different mental health issues. Nilsen noted that there are a total of 33 women in the prison unit, each of which will in time have the opportunity to get out and live healthier lives. Nilsen’s students took the chance to make a significant difference in the lives of the inmates.
“I found out that these women don’t even get the basic necessities,” said Nilsen. “Most of them don’t even get toothpaste on a daily basis. We made it our little goal to help these women so that they can have a fresh start once they get out.”
Nilsen expressed her feelings on how quickly her students responded to the call for aid. Unselfishness was the story of the day as hundreds of items were collected for donation in a matter of weeks.
“The response was completely overwhelming,” said Nilsen. “They just kept collecting and collecting. I gave them a few weeks and in that time they’ve donated enough items to supply these women for close to a year.”
In the future Nilsen will continue to be on the lookout for new opportunities to help out with the women’s prison unit and other locations that need additional assistance.