Month: April 2017

Children are Great Imitators

Saving Money on Hygiene Kits by Ordering in Bulk

As I have shared a bit with you on Facebook, I recently reached out to members of my (new-to-me) community on a local FB page. I asked if anyone wanted to join me in packing hygiene kits for the homeless. To my amazement, people said yes – and our little group now numbers over 300! We pack hygiene kits monthly, and once to twice a month, I go downtown and join forces with a wonderful catering company. They feed the homeless, and they allow me to set up a table with toiletry kits (and whatever other donations we can gather). What a blessing this has been to me!

Hygiene kits and other donations for the homeless

As we have gathered donations, we have found that there are some items that we can often get for free (shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion). There are other items that we can get sporadically (vanity kits, bags, toothbrushes, toothpaste). And then there are items that we like to purchase to make our hygiene kits more … well, awesome. Many of the people who we serve live and sleep on the streets. Many more live in shelters and transitional housing. And almost without fail, they are grateful for whatever we can give them. And so every month, we try our best to give whatever we can. Before we meet, I do inventory of what we have already, I share what we need with my group members, I include links to order online, and we buy whatever we can. I spend a lot of time researching the very best deals I can find so we can maximize our budgets.

I quickly learned that shopping for items in bulk online was almost always MUCH cheaper than buying them at the grocery store or drug store, even with a coupon. So that’s what we’ve been doing for the last several months – gathering the items that we have been able to get donated, then filling in the gaps with bulk orders.

A few months ago, I started noticing articles about MDSupplies.com. They were all written by people who pack hundreds (or thousands!) of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and who have found that they can save a lot of money by ordering in bulk through this company. I didn’t bother even looking at first – I will be packing 33 shoeboxes this year, and I don’t need to buy toiletry items in the hundreds for them.

Then it hit me: HYGIENE KITS!

I looked at their website and realized that their prices were almost all cheaper than what I had been paying elsewhere. But I was hesitant to ask my group to purchase something in bulk when I had never seen any of their products. So I found them on Facebook, sent them a message, and they generously arranged for me to receive samples of many of the items that I was interested in. So on behalf of my group, and any of you who might also be interested in packing large amounts of shoeboxes or blessing bags, I wanted to share these products with you. (Note: I am listing the prices that are current as of the date of publication. They can, of course, change at any time, so double-check before ordering. I also wanted to mention that I am not being paid for this review and I will receive no commission if you make a purchase – I am just really excited to have found a source that will allow us to do so much more with our money.)

 
MDSupplies samples

  • Dukal emergency blankets. This is the most expensive item I received to review, and the one that has the greatest potential to be life-saving. If you are in an area with a lot of snow, as I am, these are a huge gift to those who are sleeping outside. They’re heavy duty and water resistant. 50 of them cost $101.49; $2.029 each.
  • Dukal zip bags. I will use the 3×5 bags to hold Q-tips and floss samples – I have been buying snack-sized bags, but these are significantly cheaper at $6.99 per thousand, or $.0069 cents each. And the 9×6 bags are large enough to hold a complete hygiene kit; they cost $33.67 for 1000, or $.033 each. (These are wider than a sandwich bag, so they can hold full-sized toothbrushes. The cheaper, bulk toothbrushes that we buy are a bit shorter, so for most of our kits, we could use the smaller and less expensive 5×8 bags, which are $.016 each.) Price-wise, I can’t find anything cheaper than the 3×5 bags or the 9×6 bags elsewhere. The 5×8 bags are roughly the same cost as generic sandwich bags, but they’re a bit bigger.
  • Dukal combs. These are small but are the perfect size for our hygiene kits, and are as sturdy as the other combs that we have bought in bulk. This is one of my favorite deals: $34.23 for a case of 2160, or $.015 cents per comb.
  • Dukal toothbrush cap. These toothbrush caps were the reason that I decided to look seriously into MDSupplies.com. I know that many times, the simple bag that we give out the hygiene kits in is the same bag that will store all of these toiletries once they’ve been used… meaning the used soap and razor will be hanging out with a toothbrush. I’m not a big germaphobe, but that creeps me out a little bit. These caps fit perfectly with the bulk toothbrushes we buy, and the price is amazing: $72.73 for 1400, or just $.05 per cap.
  • Dukal fingernail clippers. Nail clippers are one of my favorite items to add to hygiene kits. I used to buy them at the dollar store; then I realized that I could purchase them cheaper on bulk online. But these nail clippers are even cheaper than the best price I’d found previously: a case of 288 is $69.88, making these $.242 each. (Goodbye, dollar store nail clippers!)
  • Dynarex twin blade razors. These razors are simple, but they will get the job done. Many men ask for these on our distributions, and we rarely have them, so I’m excited to stock up. They are $23.76 for 300, or $.079 each.
  • Dawn Mist brushless shave cream by Dukal. This is a great way to add shaving cream to our kits – previously the best deal I had found was $1 for a travel-sized tube. And while that is certainly a great gift because it can be used several times, since we are making hundreds of kits at a time, it wasn’t something that has been in my budget. These small packets are $59.56 for 1000, or $.059 each. This means that, by buying in bulk, we can provide a razor and a single-use shave cream for less than 14 cents in each kit. Amazing!
  • Dukal clear soap box, unhinged. As I mentioned above with the toothbrush caps, I love the idea of something that will allow used soap to stay contained, rather than sliming around inside the bag. These soap boxes are large enough to fit a standard bar of soap, or a few smaller hotel-sized bars. It’s very easy to open, but has enough grip that when I hold the box by the top, the bottom piece will not slide loose. These are $18.74 for 144, or $.13 each.
  • Dynarex roll-on deodorant. This is the only sample that I decided to remove from my shopping list. It is a liquid deodorant, and the second ingredient is alcohol. Every agency I have worked with has strongly advised me to avoid products with a strong alcohol content, even sanitizer or mouthwash, so this won’t work for my group. At some point, I might look into the other deodorant options that MDSupplies offers – their Dukal stick deodorant, for instance, comes to under 50 cents each. This is an item that I am asked for frequently but never have enough of, so I’d love to find an inexpensive source for this.

Hygiene kit for the homeless

If you are interested in ordering any of the above items for your own hygiene kits or shoeboxes, I have some good news. First of all, everything above ships for FREE, no minimum purchase required. And second, the awesome people at MDSupplies brainstormed with me to come up with a list that I could share with my packing group to make ordering for the homeless simple, and they linked us to a second list that has been put together for ordering shoebox supplies. So if you’d like to check out anything that they offer, you can go right here. Again, I am not affiliated with MDSupplies and I do not get paid for any orders placed through this link; I am just truly excited to share this to help others maximize their money so that more people can be blessed.

Thanks so much for reading – and if you have any questions, you can comment here, or go directly to the MDSupplies & Service Facebook page. They have been incredibly helpful and have answered all of my questions quickly and kindly.

Happy shopping!