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You can now get free needle-cleaning kits in Skagit County

SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash, - It is a parent’s nightmare. Their child getting pricked by a used needle.

In an attempt to get more used needles off the streets, Skagit County launched a new pilot program on Wednesday.

The program is inspired by a mom and what she did first for her community.

Kara Schubert raised money through a bake sale and a GoFundMe account and put together 150 needle-cleaning kits for her community in Concrete.

It’s one way the mother of two is turning frustration into action.

“I couldn’t let my kids out to play, we couldn’t go to our park anymore,” Schubert said.

Schubert says she found a used needle at her children’s favorite park in Everett. The opioid epidemic in Snohomish County is one reason why she moved her family to Skagit County but then after hearing on social media about a Burlington child getting pricked by a needle, Schubert says she couldn’t just rant anymore.

“A 3-year-old, a toddler, getting poked by a dirty needle is horrendous. So upset by that,” Schubert said.

She called Skagit County Health Department hoping they had free kits to hand out which helped spark the countywide pilot program.

“It’s like mind-blowing is the word for it. I didn’t expect it to go that far,” Schubert said.

How to help

If you are going to participate make sure you are wearing gloves, protective eyewear, closed toe shoes.

When you pick up the needle with a tong make sure you bring the container to the needle instead of the needle to the container. Also always drop it in a Sharps container tip first.

“Because this county distances are so far someone sees a problem it would be great if they are willing to help,” Kristen Ekstran with the health department said.

Ekstran says the opioid epidemic is a growing problem. She says in 2016 about 6 people died from an opioid overdose now that number is 8 every month. For a small community, Ekstran says those stats are devastating.

That’s why Ekstran says community partnership is vital. And Schubert is an example that even one person can make an impact.

“It’s going to take all of us to be apart and keep it going,” Schubert said.

The pilot program will go on for 6 months. Anyone can pick a free kit at the health department. You can also drop it off at the same place and the health department will dispose of the kit for you.

If the pilot program is successful it could be extended.