Friday, September 17, 2010

Soap Feels Like Home

What have you done lately to help your neighbor?

It’s so easy to get lost in our own world, consumed by our own challenges. But if we ask that simple question, we open a world of possibility for personal and professional growth.

At Clean the World, we take our responsibilities to our neighbors very seriously. We’re blessed to be able to grow an organization in central Florida, and we’re happy to expand our soap recycling mission around the globe. We’ve been fortunate enough to distribute our recycled soaps and bottled amenities to more than 30 countries worldwide, but we never lose sight of the needs of people in our own backyard.
Recycled hygiene products have made their way into the hands of needy people in central Florida and beyond. Local homeless shelters, domestic abuse safe havens, and women’s shelters have received multiple deliveries of hygiene kits each month through Clean the World.

Here’s just one example: Sanford Hope Team. The Seminole County charity locates and cares for homeless people in the communities north of Orlando, Fla. They go into the woods and speak with homeless people living there, get to know them better and offer help in the form of hygiene kits that include our soap.

Just last week, two members of the team received 500 bars of recycled soaps from Clean the World that have been distributed to people who need them most. No questions asked.

“People are reluctant to step forward and say they need help, but we try to be a discreet as possible,” says Anthony Saunders, outreach specialist at Sanford Hope Team. “We understand that people have pride and we respect that. But once they call, most are very courteous and grateful to receive help. They just want to be clean.”

Saunders and his fellow outreach specialist, Doug Little, estimate that there are more than 500 homeless people in the Sanford area. Some have been homeless for years; others have just fallen on tough times during a lingering economic recession.

“Many have lost businesses, lost their homes, and lost hope,” Saunders says. “There are homeless military veterans who have struggled to find jobs. They’re not just people looking for handouts. They have dignity. Basic soap is so important to them. It’s really humbling to see how people live. We take so much for granted, but when you see this every day, it’s heartbreaking.”

And that’s why Clean the World is happy to help. Our soaps and bottled amenities are paired with shaving cream, washcloths, socks and underwear to form hygiene kits that are distributed to people in need. We’re just a small part of that package, but we are proud to help in any way possible. The goal, of course, is to eliminate the need, but until we do, we’ll keep providing recycled soaps wherever a need arises.

Sanford Hope Team is just one of the local central Florida charities served by Clean the World and our hotel partners. We also have domestic distribution of recycled soaps and bottled amenities to Orlando Union Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army of Central Florida, various church and school groups, and individuals and smaller groups on request. Soap cleanses, and it feels like home. It also uplifts the spirit – of those receiving the gift and those who do the giving.

Each day around the world more than 9,000 children die from preventable diseases, such as acute respiratory illness and diarrheal disease, because they don’t have the opportunity to wash with bar soap.  Whether these children are in the United States or in foreign countries, they deserve a better fate.

We can help prevent the spread of disease simply by increasing the availability of germ-killing, life-saving soap. That’s how we help our neighbors. Now, how will you help yours?

One final note with sadness, but great respect and admiration, Clean the World offers its condolences to the Sanford Hope Team, who recently lost a key member of their team.  Steve “Rocky” Cook was instrumental in connecting Sanford Hope Team with Clean the World. Rocky died suddenly this month after a brief battle with cancer. He will be remembered in our hearts and prayers, but also in the continued work of the Sanford Hope Team and their dedication to eliminating homelessness in Seminole County.

Thanks for helping Clean the World,
Shawn Seipler
Executive Director
Clean the World
www.cleantheworld.org

2 Comments:

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