KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Police Department fights much more than crime.
The department partners with nonprofit Giving the Basics for its Badges to Basics program. Badges to Basics provides community members with personal hygiene products, which are not covered by government assistance.
On Wednesday, Giving the Basics, KCPD and the Kansas City Public School District were honored for their distributions by Nonprofit Connect at its annual awards luncheon. Using the little things to reduce crime and give students the change to thrive, is making a big difference.
"It changes lives," said Teresa Hamilton, executive director of Giving the Basics. "It reduces shame and bullying, distance and indifference. We help everybody get clean and that's exciting."
Hamilton said Giving the Basics supplies more than 200,000 people in the metro with personal hygiene products a month. The group gives them to agencies like KCPD, and then those organizations distribute products to the community.
KCPD's Badges for Basics started in 2017 with the passing out of hygiene kits from patrol cars, and at apartment buildings. It's grown, and in the last six months, Officer Vito Mazzara said he and other officers, will set up tables on neighborhood streets for "pop-up" distributions.
"We randomly select location based on violent crimes in the city and we try to pick some of the more violent, high crime areas, and then we will target that area to pop up, bring the products out on a random day at a random time with no public notification," Mazzara said. "We set up our tables. We bring out between one and 300 of each product to get out to each family in need. Just start waving down people, waving down cars, and giving out to everyone who has a need to give as many people as we can."
Mazzara said he's already seen the impact of the program.
"We've seen crime gone down week after week after the event and stay down from that location," Mazarra said. "Cause we're reaching out to the people who live there and they're seeing police in a different manner and they're calling us more and they're seeing the other side."
Giving the Basics wants to grow, and help more agencies and community members. It just expanded to Wichita. In the metro, it supplies goods to more than 120 food panties, more than 270 schools, more than 1,100 home-bound seniors and four law enforcement agencies.