The REACH program in Rochester is a feel-good example of a symbiotic relationship as its participants work to provide help to the community at large and simultaneously wind up learning how to better help themselves.

The REACH Essential Bank collects essential hygiene products and then redistributes them to members of the Rochester and Grand Mound communities, as well as residents of surrounding areas. The bank is operated by the Rochester School Dsitrct’s Transition Program. That program is in place so that special needs students and those with learning disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21 can learn life skills and get occupational experience as they prepare to exit the public school system and charge headlong into the real world.

“We provide monthly hygiene products for people in need. It is all non-profit and done almost entirely off of donations from our community,” wrote AJ Easley, a Rochester teacher and coordinator for the REACH Transition Program, in an email to The Chronicle. “With colder weather and the holidays coming up, we are looking for more ways to get the word out to try and let people know about us.”

Easley noted that during November’s giveaway day at the REACH Essentials Bank, they were able to provide help to at least 40 families. He added that the biggest turnout ever was 45 different folks who showed up and took home the assorted hygiene essential to their families. Those items include, but are not limited to, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, dish soap, laundry soap, feminine hygiene products and toilet paper.

“That was great but I know there’s more people in our area who need our help than 45, so we’re just trying to get the word out,” Easley told The Chronicle.

The next REACH Essential Bank opening will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 16 at the Rochester School District Office. 

The Rochester School District office is located at 10140 U.S. Highway 12 next to the stoplight. Additional information on the REACH program can be found online at or by sending an email to

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