Soap For Society is back again for another year in 2019, and once again I’m asking you, my dear reader, for your support to make this excellent cause a reality. For those of you who are new, you might be wondering: what is Soap For Society?
In 2018 I teamed up with some amazing locals, including French-born, Wellington-based illustrator La Chapardeuse and Wellington City Mission, to create a one-week product drive focused on encouraging people to donate bathroom products to charity to help address the issue of hygiene poverty in New Zealand.
Hygiene poverty is an unseen kind of struggle in New Zealand that’s affecting more and more families as rent and grocery prices rise each year. It means being unable to afford the little basics which we take for granted, and the impact that has on an individuals self-esteem. It’s the girl who doesn’t go to school because she doesn’t have sanitary items to wear during her period. It’s the boy who can’t make friends because he’s told he smells and doesn’t have deodorant at home. Its families who have to ration toilet paper so they can balance their budget each month. These items may not seem expensive to you and me, but for many, they’re tricky to fit in an already expensive grocery bill.
The results were beyond what I could have imagined.
The biggest factor in this campaign’s success was you guys: You just seemed to ‘get’ Soap For Society and quickly stuck in, sharing your boxes of tampons, shampoo and body wash to be sent to Wellington City Mission. We saw your grocery shops, that you picked up extra toiletries and accosted your friends to spread the word via the power of social media. It was incredible to behold.
The product collected by ordinary Wellington people at their offices, schools and universities made a huge impact for the team at the Wellington City Mission. It gave the hard-working City Mission team not only the chance to distribute products to families via their care packages but enough to share hygiene products with women in need at Women’s Refuge and curate products into beauty kits for presents for youth at Christmas. “We were amazed at the quality of the products donated,” says Bridget, marketing manager for Wellington City Mission. “People were so generous.” The items you helped to raise lasted 6 months and made the lives of Kiwi’s struggling to make ends meet little bit easier.
As we were running Soap For Society in 2018, I was flooded with emails coming in from people living in different parts of New Zealand who wanted to contribute in some way and donate hygiene products. Some people even decided to post their products to Wellington!
For those in different cities, I could only direct them to donate directly to their own local mission. However, I was keen - if we could do it again - to work out a way for Soap For Society to run in other cities simultaneously and connect people across the country with this issue.
One of my goals in 2019 was the chance to work on Soap For Society alongside Auckland and Christchurch City Mission. So I was thrilled when I asked Bridget about this and she put me in touch with Deb and Rachel from the Auckland and Christchurch City Mission respectively.
Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have thus teamed up during the week of 23-30 September 2019 to run the second annual Soap For Society together. And that leads to why I need your input more than ever.
Aucklanders and Cantabrians, we need you to rally and spread the word about Soap For Society. Wellingtonians, you need to support this important cause once again, and while you’re at it, tell your friends in Christchurch and Auckland that they can get involved too. Set up boxes at work. Clean out your bathroom. Go ask your parents for any unused toiletries. What’s gathering dust in your bathroom drawer can make a huge difference to people in need. As women, we’re constantly aware of how our appearance and ‘beauty’ impact other areas of our life whether we’d prefer it to or not. This is a chance to help others regain a sense of confidence in their appearance.
Also, look out for our amazing posters designed by Maureen, popping up in eye-catching blue and yellow around your inner city. A huge thanks to Phantom for giving us such a generous discount in posting these up. I’d be thrilled if you took a photo of yourself with a poster during the week of Soap For Society and tagged it in your Instagram @soapforsociety.
Together can replenish supplies for all three city missions and help more Kiwi’s feel a sense of pride in their appearance, whether they’re a 50-year-old man living on the street or a teenager heading to school. All Kiwi’s deserve the right to dignity through feeling clean and cared for. You know how much of a difference it is to go home and wash your hair after a hard day. Why not help someone else experience that same important relief.
How to donate:
Put your items in a box with ‘Soap For Society’ written on each side, and either take them down to or post to one of the three city missions. Details of where to send them are here (or google the address of the city missions) .
Items we need:
Anything else you you think people would like including lipstick, face wash, eyeshadows - you name it. (Wellington and Christchurch only - Auckland City Mission don’t currently need shampoo and beauty items as they recently got a generous donation from an international beauty brand)
Items we can’t accept (sorry!):
Nail polish and perfume