Soap: Luxury or Necessity? Samaritan House Weighs In

Carson Ransom ⟩ Business Intern

Can you imagine a life in which you do not have guaranteed access to clean soap? I know I personally cannot. Unfortunately, many families in Brandon do not have everyday access to basic hygiene products. To combat this major issue, ReNu Hygienics has partnered with various organizations in Brandon in order to make a true difference in bettering the lives of individuals and families within our community.   

Since March 2019, ReNu Hygienics has worked in partnership with the Samaritan House of Brandon to provide underprivileged Brandonite families with clean soap. Since inception, ReNu Hygienics has made it a mission to match every soap purchase through the ReNu Hygienics site with an equal soap donation to a not-for-profit organization, Brandon’s Samaritan House and Brandon Bear Clan to name a few.  

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of interviewing Samaritan House Ministries representative Shannon Saltarelli, whom specializes in fundraising and communication for the organization’s local chapter here in Brandon. Samaritan House Ministries is a community-based organization that runs Manitoba’s second largest food bank. The organization also facilitates a safe-and-warm overnight shelter, and an initiative designed to assist women and children leaving difficult domestic situations, called “Mary’s House.”   

Once ReNu Hygienics has donated the soaps to organizations such as the Samaritan House, the organization sends the soaps to individuals or families in need. In the case of Samaritan House, the organization distributes the donated soaps to either the Brandon food bank, safe-and-warm safehouses, or to the Mary’s House initiative. Traditionally, prior to COVID-19 social distancing and lockdown measures, individuals and families that depend on Samaritan House for support were allotted 3 personal hygiene items. Some items such as female sanitary products are not included in the 3-item personal limit. However, other items must be selected at the exclusion of others. Imagine having to make a choice between getting toothpaste for your children, or soap to clean your body. These are terrible choices for families to have to make.  

ReNu Hygienics realizes the difficult position that these exclusive choices place on families, which is why ReNu has made it a mission to donate enough soaps so that families depending on the support of organizations such as the Samaritan House do not need to sacrifice other items of necessity in order to practice clean hygiene. Shannon says its difficult to see individuals being forced to make exclusive choices amongst competing items of necessity. She reiterated the fact that if families knew that receiving soap was a guarantee, it would provide them with great peace-of-mind knowing that the received soap is not coming at the expense of another needed product.    

ReNu Hygienics is proud to partner with the Samaritan House of Brandon to help families in need. When asked about the impact of the donated soaps, Executive Director Barbara McNish emphasized the importance of making an environmental impact with the processing of the soaps, while at the same time offering a great product. She says that Samaritan House is grateful for the support, as hygiene products are a much-needed service in the programs.   

ReNu Hygienics is trying to make a difference in the lives of those in our community, but we cannot do it alone. Brandon’s food bank is run completely on donations, and the organization is always looking for support. If anyone is wanting to pay-it-forward by donating to those less fortunate, Samaritan House and Brandon’s food bank are constantly looking for both food and non-food staple items, such as:  

  • Staple grains such as rice and pasta.  
  • Canned or jarred pasta sauces. 
  • Canned fruit, vegetables, and beans.  
  • Crackers and granola bars.  
  • Canned tuna, chicken, and other proteins. 
  • Canned soups.  
  • Children’s diapers (sizes 3 to 6 are most desperately in need).  
  • Personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.  
  • Monetary donations are also accepted and greatly appreciated!   

As Shannon puts it, "Whatever you are putting on your table to feed your family, Samaritan House is looking for the same items to put on the tables of the families that they serve." Entering 2021, let’s all make a resolution to ourselves and each other, by pledging to help ensure that everyone has access to both sufficient food and personal hygiene products. 

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