Saturday, May 21st, 2011...1:05 pm
Care For Real With Soap
Recently, I met a woman that was trying to collect soap for a shelter. Not food, not money, not even volunteers. Just soap. I was confused – “Why just soap?” I asked her. She went on to not only tell me the answer that I seeked, but also to open my eyes.
“I work for a local shelter called Care For Real. It’s actually not to far from here, just a few miles up that way. I don’t really work as their employee, but the work I do is FOR them because the work they do is for thousands of others that really need the help.“
She went on to explain that the shelter had increased from 700 clients, to over 4,400 clients within the last year and within that number contained over 1000 families, most with young children. When she saw my jaw drop at those staggering figures, she said “wait – that’s not the worst part.” Continuing, she told me that almost everyone was awarded food stamps to have their needs met, but those stamps left much to be desired. For some reason, one that baffles me and that I can’t explain, the food stamps would allow for the purchase of beer but would not cover the purchase of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent, toilet paper, facial tissues, diapers, baby wipes, baby powder, feminine hygiene products, shaving products, or even – you got it – just a bar of soap. To top it off, the shelter always received donations of clothes and food, but almost never donations of these much needed items.
How basic. How simple. I thought. Then, I thought – How absurd! How ridiculous! You can buy beer but not soap?!? The very idea made my blood boil. Would you want your kid to have to take a bath in Budweiser?!
Later that week, that conversation was still on my mind as I was riding a bus home from an appointment. I wanted to help. I wanted to do something for those 4,400+ people that didn’t have access to these basic necessities. But what? How? I couldn’t afford to shop for all of them. I looked up from the book that I wasn’t reading. To my surprise, the answer was staring me back in the face. The bus was plastered with advertisements for a new website – and I swear I’m not making this up – Soap.com. What was more, was that the advertisements were offering free overnight shipping to anywhere in Chicago.
Now, I’m not in the habit for asking for things from my friends. Nor am I in the habit of using my website to raise funds for charity. But, when I started to think of what my life might be like without soap – good, clean, sweet-smelling soap – and all of it’s hygiene grocery store brothers and sisters, my vivid imagination failed to deliver. I just couldn’t, and didn’t want to, picture a life like that.
So I decided to write this, and to ask – can you afford to visit Soap.com and donate a hygiene product to:
6044 North Broadway
Chicago, IL 60660
and help me help them? Please? And can you share this with others?
Thank you. Every bar of soap counts.
Editorial Correction: It seems that the lady I talked with had misinformation about being able to currently buy beer with food stamps, although it was legal at one time. However, she was not misinformed about not being able to buy soap or paper products. After some quick research, I have found the official list from IL Legal Aid:
The SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) allowance can be used to:
- Buy most food that you find at a grocery store
- Buy food at a farmer’s market
- Pay for meals provided by the Meals-on-Wheels program
You cannot use SNAP benefits to buy:
- Prepared foods from a grocery store
- Paper products
- Pet food
- Other nonfood items
If you break these rules, there are strict penalties (see “Intentional Program Violation”).