Adventures in being a volunteer advocate to fight poverty while raising children. My insights are seen through the lens of motherhood and a desire to help moms uplift each other to make a better world for our kids. For tips on how to take advocacy actions, type "Advocacy Made Easy" into the search bar!
By Cynthia Changyit Levin, @ccylevin
As the school year begins, moms are running around trying to make sure that everyone has everything they need to start the school year off right. Teachers need kleenex and Clorox wipes for the classroom, high schoolers need whatever the heck binder types the teacher asked for, the Starbucks donation box needs some more backpacks for kids who don't have one. But another mundane, yet oh-so-necessary item is on my mind: Soap.
Soap is one of those things you don't think about much until you don't have it. Soap protects us all from getting sick and spreading illness to others, so everyone can keep going to school and work. It keeps our skin clear (or clearer anyway). It keeps us from being smelly so other people don't shy away from us because of our body odor. When you add those all up, soap gives us dignity.
Soap is also one of the very necessary items that you cannot buy with food stamps along with toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo, deodorant, feminine hygiene products and diapers. If you're having trouble imagining what it feels like to live without those things check out Pamela Covington's book "A Day at the Fare" that I reviewed this summer.
Everyone needs to be clean and on my mind especially are the kids sitting alone in schools across America with so many problems that a lack of soap might not even make the top five. There are lots of reasons why kids might be ostracized by peers, but one very real and very fixable reason can be body odor. Now, I KNOW I'm not alone in the world of moms in having had to find ways to try to convince adolescent kids that they stink when they don't shower. It's so common among pre-teens to genuinely not know why people don't want to sit near them when they're fouling the air around them. It's painful to consider that a simple lack of soap is adding to the social isolation of kids in poverty.
Thank goodness that in St Louis, we have Circle of Concern. The text on their website reads: "Feeding families is just the beginning." Their food pantry provides fresh, nutritious food for over 600 families each month that reside in the Parkway, Rockwood and Valley Park school districts of Greater St Louis. Circle of Concern has a limited supply of personal care items and is currently in need of soap.
Wherever you are when you're reading this, please consider making a donation of soap and care products to a facility like Circle of Concern. It's not only a gift of health, but a gift of dignity.