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Billings library launches discreet and accessible 'community cabinet' for the unhoused

Posted at 7:46 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 21:46:56-05

BILLINGS – A discreet and accessible place for the city’s unhoused to get free toiletries and hygiene items is launching this year.

“I guess we just take for granted a lot of basic items or necessities,” said Taylor Arnold, a library service specialist at the Billings Public Library, where the community cabinet is located.

He says something as little as clean socks, sunscreen or a toothbrush can mean all the difference for those in our community who are homeless or in transition.

“I mean things are expensive,” said Arnold. “Making it more accessible is what's important.”

Arnold, who’s been with the library for less than a year, already hit the ground running when he started his job, spending the summer around town promoting what the library offers.

“I was going to the skatepark on the bike library handing out resources, like water, when it was 100 degrees outside,” he said. “I got the idea to start bringing hygiene kits to those hanging out at the skatepark and the surrounding areas.”

And the feedback was positive, so he continued. With donations pouring in for the hygiene kits, he took the excess and put the idea into a permanent fixture, inside the lobby of the library.

The act makes his heart feel good.

“I think it makes anyone feel good helping others,” he said. “It’s just a really good feeling in general.”

But he says, it's much more than that. The library makes the cabinet accessible, where no questions are asked, and hygiene and comfort items are available to anyone who needs them.

Items like this often can make all the difference in reducing small stresses, promoting health, and restoring confidence.

He hopes those who can, will help the community cabinet grow and those who need it will make use.

“It's not about being some saving grace, it's more, hey here are some resources we have they are for the community, you are a part of the community. They are for you,” he said.

The library is looking for unopened and unused donations for the community cabinet, with things such as socks, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, tampons, socks, and gloves.