hypodermic needle

A Concrete resident and Skagit County officials could disperse over 200 hypodermic needle cleanup kits throughout the county.

Kara Schubert has been fundraising for 120 kits since early July and has gained the attention of Skagit County Public Health, which is looking to fund a pilot project adjacent to Schubert’s cause.

“I’m excited about it because it means they’re taking that proactive idea seriously like I am,” Schubert said. “If we all work together, then we can prevent injury in our area.”

After reading about two boys who were poked by a used needle at a local park, Schubert said she decided to take action. She started a GoFundMe page to help fund the kits.

“Kids need to be able to play at their playgrounds,” Schubert said. “It’s not for shooting up.”

Schubert said she was able to raise enough funds for those 120 kits in about a month. The kits will be distributed in east county communities.

Meanwhile, Public Health is looking for funds for about 100 cleanup kits, said Joanne Lynn, communicable disease and environmental health manager.

The proposed pilot project is similar to those in Whatcom and Snohomish counties and is estimated to cost Skagit County about $1,500 for six months worth of kits, Lynn said.

Calls to Public Health about found needles have increased this summer, Lynn said. Public Health has gotten more calls in the past two months than the rest of this year combined.

“We get calls all the time,” Lynn said. “So we want to empower the community to pick them up and do it safely.”

Public Health has been looking for ways to implement a program since February, Lynn said. Schubert’s effort to crowdfund for the kits is what led the department to take quicker action.

Chad Clark, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office chief of patrol, said although the office get calls for needle cleanups on a weekly basis, he hasn’t noticed a rise in the number of reported incidents.

Schubert said if the pilot project doesn’t receive continual funding, she’ll keep the GoFundMe account open.

“I’m going to try to keep it alive for as long as possible,” she said.

— Reporter Eric Rosane: 360-416-2139, erosane@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Eric_SVH

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