It’s that time of year again!  All the leaves are off the trees, the weather suddenly got much colder, and every store is filled with decorations and twinkling lights.  The holidays are here – and that means PEERhugs is back.

What is PEERhugs?  PEERhugs is The PEER Center’s annual holiday program to distribute care packages to our associates.  The holidays can be a difficult time of year for those in recovery, and everyone needs a hug sometimes.  So we offer our associates three types of hug boxes:  Hygiene PacksWarm Hug Kits, and Coping Toolboxes. 

Can you help?  We need individuals and organizations to make up hug boxes for our associates.  This would be a great project for community groups like schools, church groups, fraternal organizations, and others.  Or maybe you and your family would like to give something back this holiday.  Remember – you can never give or receive too many hugs.  Here are the types of boxes we need:

Hygiene Pack consists of toiletries such as washcloths, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, towels, and other hygiene-related items. These are packaged in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and distributed to any associate who requests one.

Warm Hug Kit consists of hats, gloves, mittens, blankets, socks and other items to help someone keep warm during the cold months and brave the ice and snow of an Ohio winter.  These items can be packed together or distributed individually.

Coping Toolboxis just what it sounds like – a pack full of small items to help a person cope in a difficult situation. We’ve all encountered disappointments and setbacks on our paths to wellness.  You probably use many different physical items to manage your own stress without even thinking about it.  Things like keeping a Koosh ball on your desk to toss around when you are frustrated at the office or lighting a scented candle to relax at the end of the day can make a huge difference.  Do you ever pick up a crossword puzzle to have a temporary distraction from a difficult problem?  Or maybe just to have a bit of fun and reward yourself after a long week?  All of these coping strategies can help you get over a rough patch.

And what is the best help during a bad period?  A HUG!  A hug from someone who cares and understands what you are going through.  We want to offer our associates a PEERhug by packaging a shoebox-sized (or smaller) container of items they can turn to when they are struggling.  The person receiving the PEERhug can reach into the box in times of stress to take their mind off their troubles and have a momentary distraction from the difficult situation they find themselves in. And let’s get creative! We are looking for small things (remember, shoebox-size or smaller) to give someone a pick-me-up.  Anything that engages the mind or senses will help.  Ideas include lotion, scented candles, tea bags, hard candy, cuddly blankets, poetry, written affirmation statements, pretty postcards, puzzle books, or a deck of cards.  We also like to include textured items, like a fuzzy stuffed animal or a Koosh ball – the kind of thing you can pull out and fiddle with.

The PEER Center staff will also be assembling PEERhugs boxes, and we need donated items to put in them.  Any donations of the itemsPEERhugs
listed above would be a great help.  We also need gallon-size Ziploc bags and shoe boxes to package the hugs.

Please remember that we can only distribute unopened toiletry items.  These items are often given away free in hotels or as product samples.  If you are planning on purchasing items to donate, make the most out of your donation dollars by buying in bulk and looking for sales.  And remember to always make sure you understand the pricing structure of the store – often travel-sized items are actually higher priced than other options.

So as we start into this weekend of thanksgiving, please help us give all of our associates a PEERhug.  And a big HUG back to you and yours from all of the staff and associates of The PEER Center!