EUREKA — To a refugee or someone who's been through a natural disaster, a bar of soap might be as good as gold.
On Monday, the Eureka College campus might have been a sudsy equivalent of Fort Knox.
Eureka students, faculty and staff members participated in a day of service. Each Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the campus community undertakes a different project intended to benefit a less-fortunate population.
This year, the project was basic and universal.
Volunteers assembled more than 50 hygiene kits, according to Bruce Fowlkes, the Eureka chaplain. The kits include a hand towel, a washcloth, fingernail clippers, a toothbrush and the aforementioned soap, among other things.
Church World Service, a multi-denominational Christian ministry, plans to donate the kits to those who need them, regardless of location.
"They could go anywhere in the world, or they can be used here in the States," Fowlkes said. "Anybody that's displaced. Anybody who's a refugee or temporarily displaced and has lost their belongings."
The groups can range from those who are escaping political strife to victims of hurricanes or floods, Fowlkes suggested.
Fowlkes also suggested repeating the hygiene-kit project. He said the college did something similar following the 2010 Haiti earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people.
"It was an easy project, people seemed to like it and it worked pretty well," Fowlkes said.
Local residents, churches and businesses were among those who donated items, or donated money with which to purchase them. No perishable items were accepted because the kits might need to be stored for a while, depending on need.
Collections began in November. According to Fowlkes, at least 100 people have participated at the school affiliated with The Disciples of Christ.
Ultimately, about 200 kits are to be assembled.
The campus is to conduct a more traditional Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Thursday. But Eureka President Jamel Santa Cruze Wright wanted to make sure the actual holiday wasn't just for speeches, according to Fowlkes.
"The Martin Luther King holiday is a day of service," he said. "It really wouldn't be what it fully means to be if we weren't giving back."
Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick.