As the Tri-State continues to battle the affects of the opioid epidemic, one program in Scioto County, Ohio is rallying around some of addictions youngest victims.
The mission of Operation: Grace is to help provide the children of addicts with the basics that their parents often do not provide. Dan Palmer approached the Scioto County commission with the idea for Operation: Grace in January. Palmer says his mission began when he attended the Ohio Attorney General’s conferences on heroin.
“I attended two. I came back and knew I had to get involved and do something,” Palmer says.
The need is particularly dire in the school system. Palmer says teachers have come to him asking for help with kids who lack basics like underwear, deodorant or a tooth brush.
Since January, Operation: Grace has expanded quickly. Palmer says he’s been humbled by the outpouring of generosity his neighbors have shown.
“The generosity of the people of Scioto county has been immense,” Palmer says.
One thing Operation: Grace does not have is used items. Palmer says the children they help have been through enough to earn something new.
The generosity doesn’t stop at the county line. MHP Hotels, who own the Marriott in Ironton, donated hundreds of bottles of shampoo, conditioner, soap and towels to help children who shower at school for lack of running water at home.
Most of the children Operation: Grace helps are referred by teachers in Scioto County or through the county drug court. Court officials say the resources provided by Palmer and Operation: Grace are invaluable.
“He’s awesome,” Court Administrator Dawn Keller-Phillips said of Palmer, “we can call over here and tell him ‘we have a child we removed today that has no warm clothes, no coat, no hat, no water at home’ and Mr. Palmer and the court work closely to make sure those situations are remedied.”
Operation: Grace has been distributing donations since May, but the need continues to grow. Palmer says just last week a school gave him the names of more than two dozen students in need of winter clothes.
Palmer says the stakes of the opioid epidemic are too high not to do all they can for the youngest victims.
“These kids didn’t ask for this. They didn’t ask to be in these families. And now they’re in a bad situation,” Palmer says. “We have to help them or were going to lose a generation of these kids.”
If you would like to donate to Operation: Grace, contact Dan Palmer at 740-547-8839.