Three short years ago a question, out of curiosity, was asked to 5 local shelters. “So, what do you do for hygiene amenities?” At this time we did not realize how many people in our own communities go without soap and hygiene amenities.
Disaster Aid Canada (DAC) does international humanitarian aid to people affected by natural disasters; including helping evacuees from the BC Wildfires. The Soap for Hope program was created to supply these disasters with soap. Something as simple as soap can save lives.
Three short years ago, the question “So, what do you do for hygiene amenities?” changed our focus solely on international aid to helping locally as well. DAC had an excessive amount of soap and shampoo products in our warehouse. We believe that supplies help no one by sitting in a warehouse. So, we reached out to our local community shelters. We honestly were shocked and never expected the responses we received. How is it our fellow community members go without something as basic as soap??
Soap for Hope is a conduit between the hospitality industry and community shelters. We have created a “Caring Community Partner” program where we collect the hotels’ used amenities, linens (towels, sheets, blankets) and other items that can be redistributed back into our community. The soap and amenities are sorted, reprocessed, and packaged to create a 5 piece Hygiene Kit (an individual bar of soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion). Linens are folded and counted. This a laborious process done by our dedicated volunteers. This program facilitates volunteer opportunities for a wide age range of people that come to our warehouse for some good clean fun! Each amenity is handled at least 8 times before they are redistributed back in the community. By looking at our products you would never know these were destined to be landfill. In 2017 we redistributed close to 500,000 products back into our communities (and international disasters).
Soap for Hope has 2 warehouses; one in Victoria and one in Airdrie, AB. This is where all the processing takes place. Products are now being distributed back to local community shelters from Victoria to Campbell River, Vancouver and Whistler, Airdrie, Calgary and the surrounding area. The potential to help has spurred us to reach each of these communities in a system of give and take. When we have hotels sign up for our “Caring Community Partner” program in a community, we then look to community shelters in that area to make sure we are giving back. We work with countless Rotary Clubs and Community Partners that facilitate this exchange. With this win-win system we are now supporting over 100 community facilities.
Our ultimate goal is to become the complete hygiene solution for those we serve. Our scope now includes vulnerable seniors, kids, food banks, 1st nations as well as shelters, transitional homes and neighbourhood housing. We have had to make adjustments along our three year journey. Some facilities need individual products and some need family sized products; some need our Hygiene Kits and others like loose product. The key has been to work closely with each facility to access how we can best be of service. There are a number of items we must purchase. These include deodorant, feminine products, toothbrushes and toothpaste. We are able to purchase these products with donations to the Soap for Hope program.
As much as we never could have anticipated the results of our initial question “So, what do you do for hygiene products?”, we could not be more proud of our accomplishments. This practical program is helping thousands of people and having an impact of thousands more. We are continually growing, we are continually reaching further and deeper into our communities, and we will continue to become the complete hygiene solution for those we serve. As we like to say, “No one should have to hope for soap!”