United Way helps provide free medicine

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Angela Moore, left, and Latoya Lloyd select boxes of free bandages Thursday during the Over-the-Counter Medicine Give Away Day at the Impact Center.


By Corey Davis
Staff Writer

Friday, September 30, 2016

As she walked out the door of the Impact Center at Word Tabernacle Church with a bag of free medicine, Beulah Wilkins offered her gratitude Thursday for the variety of medications given to her and nearly 1,000 people from across the Twin Counties.

“It’s awesome, and one of the best outreach community events that has ever been done in this area,” Wilkins said. “It’s especially great for us seniors, because medicine is so high these days. I never thought I would see the day that I would have to make a choice of whether to buy food or buy medicine.”

The Over-the-Counter Medicine Give Away Day was sponsored by the United Way Tar River Region in partnership with NC MedAssist, a statewide nonprofit pharmacy providing free prescription medicines to low-income, uninsured people. The collaboration also brought out resources from other local nonprofit agencies.

There was no identification or eligibility requirement for the participants, organizers said.

Kristin Young, communications director for NC MedAssist, said the free medicine giveaway was made possible because of a grant by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust for any person or family needing over-the-counter medicine. 

She added all of the medicine was donated from the Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte. The over-the-counter medicine not given away was boxed up and sent to local free clinics, Young said.

“This is medicine that can cost upward to $25, so this is really saving people money,” she said. “This is also really filling people’s medicine cabinets.”

Trishonda Roberson, executive director of the Impact Center, said the event provided free medications to people who normally would go to the emergency room for reasons such as having a common cold, fever, flu symptoms or minor pain relief.

Ginny Mohrbutter, executive director of United Way Tar River Region, said each person received $100 worth of over-the-counter medicine, which included 10 items such as allergy relief, pain relief, indigestion relief, cold medicine, first-aid and vitamins for all ages. In addition, people received $20 or more worth of products consisting of bandages, gauzes, toothbrushes and toothpaste, she added.

The first 200 attendees at the event received shopping bags from Nash County Travel and Tourism, Mohrbutter said.

“We had this as one of the four focus areas for United Way,” she said. “When we learned about the free over-the-counter giveaway, it was a wonderful opportunity for some of our local citizens to get some of the products that they may not normally be able to afford. For some of them to get free products here, it allows them to have money for food or money for other items they may need in their lives.”

Nearly 400 volunteers offered their services in such roles as pharmacy consultants, client ‘personal shoppers’ and over-the-counter medicine sorters at the giveaway event, Morhbutter said.

Pharmacist Richard Kos, owner of Almand’s Drug Stores, offered advice for anyone who wanted to know how the over-counter-medicines could affect them taking prescription medicines and also talked to them about any existing medical condition they’re experiencing, Morhbutter added.

In addition, an out-of-date or unused prescription and over-the-counter medicine drop off was available from the Nash County Sheriff’s Office for people looking to dispose their prescription or over-the-counter medicine, organizers said.

“This is part of what United Way does and we like to unite the community around causes that are going to help our local community,” Morhbutter said.