‘Operation: Clean Sweep’ rakes in donations

Justin Shepard

The holiday spirit was in full effect Tuesday afternoon on Washburn University’s campus.

At 12:45 p.m. just outside the north end of the Living Learning Center, six local organizations lined up their vehicles in the circle drive and watched as they were loaded with gift-wrapped packages of personal care items. The agencies receiving the gifts were Let’s Help, Doorstep, The Salvation Army, Florence Crittenton Services, Breakthrough House and the Battered Women Task Force. It was all part of “Operation: Clean Sweep,” an event that has occurred annually for the past 15 years. Several local businesses and the United Way Volunteer Center Committee joined forces to collect the items, which were then brought to the Washburn campus where they were festively displayed on a table awaiting distribution.

“I think it went great,” said Shirley Steele of the Volunteer Center Committee, who coordinated the event. “This year we took more time and really notified the agencies so we had a good turnout. All six of them came today, so this turned out great.”

Steele also mentioned why it is important for students to get involved.

“It shows a lot about giving back tothe community,” said Steele. “I think there’s an emphasis more on giving and doing charity work now than there used to be, and I think it’s important for students to have that.”

Once a student gets involved, she continued, they can carry on the tradition of helping along with them in their careers.

Of course, even Santa needs a little help from his elves now and then, and Steele wasn’t alone in running the Operation.

“Oh, Lucas was great,” said Steele with a laugh, referring to Lucas Mullin, a freshman at Washburn. He, along with Lori Rognlie, loaded all the packages into the vehicles, making several trips from the vehicles to inside where the packages were displayed.

“I just think it was a good way to help,” said Mullin. “All these are local organizations. I think its good that we are able to help the people of Topeka in a real positive way.” Mullin said that they received roughly 33 percent more items than the event brought in last year.

The items collected included such personal care products as toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, soap, shaving cream and other objects that will help many in the community throughout this holiday season.

“It’s just a very good cause,” said Rognlie. “A lot of the people who go into those agencies, like Florence Crittenton… those girls don’t have anything with them but the clothes on their back. This is just one more thing that means so much to so many.”