In an effort to help evacuees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita still in the McAlester area, Avon Products has donated personal items through Gifts in Kind International.

The items will be given through the United Way of Southeastern Oklahoma. Yvette Martin, United Way executive director, said the items include lip balm, sunscreen, deodorant, shower gel and moisturizer. “There’s probably 48 to 50,000 items they donated,” she said, with a monetary value of around $200,000.

Now all these items need to be put together in personal kits. In order to help do that, Gifts in Kind has given the United Way a $10,000 grant. Martin said the money will be used to hire evacuees from the area to put the items in the kits.

“It’s another way to help the evacuees out,” she said, “by giving them a temporary job.”

Martin is hoping to start this process next week. She said the evacuees can apply for the jobs through WorkForce Oklahoma, 1201 Wade Watts Ave.

Martin said the process will help United Way to assist the evacuees in other ways as well. “Well be seeing the evacuees’ other needs (during the interview process) and see if we can help them in other ways,” she added.

“It’s important for the community to realize that we were able to obtain these items through Gifts in Kind,” she said, noting the organization has given to the local United Way numerous times in the past.

Gifts In Kind International, started in 1983, is the third largest charity in the United States and the world’s leader in product philanthropy. Its network of 450-plus Gifts In Kind programs provides nonprofit organizations access to million of dollars annually in product and service donations from companies worldwide. Visit www.giftsinkind.org for more information.

For more information about the United Way, call 423-6677.

Contact Teresa Atkerson at family@mcalesternews.com.