Laurie Rodriguez knows some women living in extreme poverty often have to decide between buying food for the day or buying self-care items.
“No woman should ever, ever have to make that choice,” she said.
So Rodriguez started the Yellow Ladies project to fill the seemingly unmet need in Amarillo. Now, almost one year since founding organization, Rodriguez is still making a difference in the lives of women living in homeless shelters and on the streets of Amarillo by distributing donated feminine and general hygiene products.
It started as a personal collection of products, bargain purchases Rodriguez made using sales and coupons that transitioned into a personal mission and passion to help others.
With her husband Thomas Rodriguez’s encouragement, she put into motion plans to care for women who were going without essential personal-care products and basic hygiene products such as toothpaste.
Rodriguez started collecting purses and bags and filling them with personal care, oral care items, deodorant, hair care, lotions, razors and shaving cream. She said that she has donated approximately $300 of her own money and about 1,200 products she picked up during what she considers “super sales” and with the use of her couponing skills.
Thomas continues to push and encourage Rodriguez in her efforts, and her 2-year-old son Alexander has also been known to assist by pushing his mini cart through the aisles of United Supermarket stores alongside his mother while she’s shopping. Alexander also helps fill bags and purses before distribution.
Rodriguez dons what she says is the ugliest Neon — and very recognizable — yellow sweater she could find to wear when she drops off filled bags and purses to homeless women on the street and to local shelters and organizations.
Rodriguez recently dropped off a donation of four bundles of filled bags to the Family Support Services Domestic Violence Shelter. Director of Crisis Services Kathy Tortoreo was appreciative of the extras for shelter clients, noting that donations like those The Yellow Ladies provide are especially helpful around the holidays.
Tortoreo told Rodriguez that many women arrive at the shelter with absolutely nothing and both the staff and clients are grateful for the donated items.
Rodriguez plans to drop off bundles of donations to different agencies and organizations at least once monthly in 2018.
To do that, Rodriguez needs a steady influx of monetary and goods donations. A fundraiser on the Yellow Ladies Facebook page currently shows donations of $326 and a PayPal link an additional $75 in monetary donations, all from people wanting to help further the cause.
Several local businesses have also contributed goods, including Amarillo Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, 5051 S. Soncy Road. AOMS recently donated two large boxes filled with oral care items such as as toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss, according to Rodriguez.
“Amarillo businesses are more than willing to help out,” Rodriguez said. “I feel overwhelmed when I get help from anybody. It warms by heart that Amarillo is helping me — helping us.”