In the summer of 2020 as Canadians were instructed to increase their hygiene efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the challenges faced by too many fellow Canadians due to socio-economic status were more visible than ever. There was a higher risk of vulnerability in certain segments of our population.
As part of our Stop the Gaps campaign, CMF partnered with Soap for Hope in British Columbia to acquire and distribute essential personal hygiene kits people who may have trouble obtaining hygiene products.
Before the pandemic, our partner collected gently used or unused soap and hygiene products from the hotel and accommodation industry that would otherwise be discarded and fill our landfills. Volunteers would then reprocess these useable products to create Hygiene Kits which would be distributed to local shelters, transitional homes, food banks, low income seniors, and other vulnerable or remote communities.
At a time when the demand was never greater, the supply of used product was drastically reduced with the temporary closure of most hotels and volunteers were not able to convene in the warehouse due to restrictions around COVID-19 and fears around all but essential gathering of groups.
Soap for Hope therefore had to resort to buying products that were often in short supply even in retail stores as consumers are stocking up. Soap for Hope Canada had several Community Facilities reach out for vital hygiene supplies and until CMF funding was provided, they had not been able to help them.
With CMF’s grant through our Close the Gaps campaign, Soap for Hope was able to quickly supply 5 locations with hygiene amenities that are so critical in our current world pandemic.
Whispers of Hope – Grand Forks. This organization provides a year round centre and drop in centre for vulnerable people in their community. They have over 60 drop ins a day; for a meal, clothing, and essentials. Hygiene amenities are products they never have enough of and with the grant our partner was able to supply this Community Facility with shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and feminine hygiene products among other supplies.
Nourish Cowichan Society – Cowichan Valley. This organization primarily helps young kids with food and essential items. This organization provides 300 food hampers bi-weekly and Soap for Hope was able to provide family sized products of Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, Toothbrushes and Toothpaste to their food hampers.
Comox Valley Foodbank – The foodbank provides food and essential products to over 2000 people a month in this area. Although food is the primary items provides, if people are struggling to get food, they most likely do not have basic hygiene amenities for themselves and their kids (30% of this number is kids). With the grant our partner was able to provide Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, Toothbrushes, Toothpaste and Deodorant to their distribution in August.
Comox Valley Nursing Centre – Comox. Helping Seniors is probably one of the most difficult demographics to help as they do not want “charity” and yet are often unable to access supplies for themselves that nursing centres may not provide. With the grant Soap for Hope was able to provide basic supplies that the nursing centre distributed to the residents.
VIHA – Mental Health Unit – Victoria. This unit assists patients experiencing mental health issues. In the past, the nurses were using their own funds to purchase hygiene products for their patients but they reached out to our partner when one of the nurses heard about the program and asked for help. Our partner was to provide jugs of products for them to have on the ward. Once patients were released, they were given Hygiene Kits (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion and soap) plus were able to provide combs, chapstick and deodorant.
“Our patients in the hospital have benefited from Soap for Hope – being able to have
more than an adequate supply to hygiene products they normally could not afford otherwise.
It has made a difference in the day to day lives of many living with mental health and substance use challenges on our units in the hospital. We are able to transition people out of the hospital with some quality supplies to ensure they can take care of their hygiene needs.”
In addition, our partner was able to leverage our grant to get freight companies to help with deliveries and was able to get the blankets from a local source.
Even in Canada there are gaps that risk the spread of infectious diseases, especially within vulnerable communities. The virus anywhere can affect us all everywhere. We are proud of our partnership with Soap for Hope in closing some of these gaps, and grateful to the CMF donors who helped support our efforts.