Soap for Hope YYC celebrated its third anniversary April 12 by unveiling its new location in north Calgary.
The new address, 5120 6th St. N.E., Calgary, is just off Deerfoot Trail and McKnight Boulevard. Soap For Hope moved into the space in early January, but members have been busy cleaning and organizing, since then.
“We’re very thankful to Next Compression, who donated the space to us,” said Program Director Michelle Edgar.
Soap for Hope is a charity under Disaster Aid Canada, and collects used soap, shampoo and other toiletries from hotels and the public, which would otherwise be thrown out. The personal care products are then repurposed into “hygiene kits” and donated to shelters and outreach programs.
While the new digs are not located in Airdrie, where the charity started, Edgar said the 4,000-square-foot facility is exactly what the organization was looking for.
“Having the space to be able to service the hotel industry with our Caring Community Partner Program takes up a lot of room, and having the space to be able to pack our hampers, as well, is very important,” she said.
“To now have a facility big enough to reach out to more hotels and collect their used amenities, it will allow us to help so many other people.”
Though the goal was to stay in Airdrie after the charity’s lease for its 1,300-square-foot downtown location expired at the end of 2018, Edgar said the opportunity to move into a larger facility was something the organization couldn’t pass up.
The new location boasts two offices, a front reception desk, an intake and inventory space, a volunteer area for product processing, a packing area and a melting station. The facility also features a collage of photos outlining Soap for Hope’s history and a wall highlighting the charity’s partners and supporters.
The organization originated at Edgar’s kitchen table in April 2016, and the charity’s growth has been steady since those early days. According to Edgar, Soap for Hope now has partnerships with 18 hotels and supports 41 outreach programs, mostly in Airdrie and Calgary.
“There’s such a huge need in our province right now, so we just want to help wherever we can,” she said.
Along with local efforts, the charity also helps out internationally. Edgar and four other Soap For Hope representatives embarked on a humanitarian trip to Nepal in 2017, where they distributed 15 bins of aid material to communities recovering from a 2015 earthquake that devastated the country.
“We also raised money to be able to purchase items in Nepal,” Edgar said. “They were items they were familiar with, so it also helped boost their economy.”
Soap for Hope continues to partner with other groups and travellers in order to send hygiene kits to countries such as Bangladesh, Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines.
“We don’t have the funds to ship directly, so we rely on other people to deliver or take the items,” Edgar said.
According to Edgar, the organization is sharing its new location with Airdrie-based Reach Ministries. She said the charity will renegotiate its lease agreement with Next Compression next year.
“I hope we’ll be here for a little bit, until we can raise enough money so we can build something in Airdrie,” she said. “We want to partner with Stephen’s Backpacks Society in their Unity in the Community building. There’s a bit of work ahead.”
To contact the charity, email [email protected]