A charity drive for a humble, necessary item: toilet paper

Toilet paper – a useful, indispensible and necessary part of life – is also precious. Just ask the California Capital Region’s United Way.

The group’s Live United Toilet Paper Drive is set to kick off on Friday, June 18. The goal is to collect rolls of toilet tissue of whatever brand – including Charmin, Cottonelle, Scott, Angel Soft, or whatever – for 140 of United Way’s non-profit partners in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties.

The drop-off station will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Cal Expo’s main entrance and the Golden 1 Credit Union Operations Center.

Not surprisingly, people spend a lot of money on toilet paper. The goal of the drive is to ease the burden of expense on the charitable groups.

“Any non-profit that serves clients, on its own premises, counseling or whatever, has to provide restroom facilities. In order to provide restroom facilities, you have to have toilet paper,” explains California Capital Region United Way CEO and President Steve Heath.

“It’s an amazing number, but typical of a non-profit that serves clients on its own premises, spends upwards of $3,000, sometimes five times that much, on toilet paper in the course of a year.” Providing toilet paper rolls frees up funds for other important needs, such as food and other services.  The Live United Toilet Paper Drive is attempting to help alleviate the need for toilet paper.

This is the second annual drive. Last year’s efforts brought in 35,000 rolls of the tissue.

The event began when United Way created a new slogan – ‘Live United.’

“Initially, we wanted to do a big volunteer project, try to mobilize people across the region to do some kind of volunteer project on one given day,” Heath said. “What we found out is that the agencies already have more volunteer projects, for the most part, than they know how to deal with.”

They looked for focus for a donation drive, but drives for objects like backpacks and coats were already being done.

“Finally, one of our people was talking to an executive director of one of the non-profits and the executive director was complaining about how much money they have to spend on toilet paper every year.” United Way decided to “roll out a new slogan, by seeing how many rolls of toilet paper we could collect.”

On June 10, Live United volunteers advertised the events in Roseville and Sacramento, asking ‘how many squares can you spare?’ This year, United Way has set a goal of collecting 50,000 rolls. After the collection, non-profits can receive the toilet paper they need directly from United Way. The event is being sponsored by AT&T, the Sacramento Bee, Foodlink, and the Golden 1 Credit Union.  

Heath urges people who want to help to donate toilet paper, but would prefer them to keep it to that day. “I don’t want people bringing me additional rolls of toilet paper in October,” he cautions. Visit for more information.

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