‘Soap For Hope’ drive raises money for local families who lost their jobs

soap and cards
Students in a Fairfax County, Virginia, chemistry class are making soap for a good cause. (Courtesy David Kelly)
thank you card
Anyone who orders a soap from the class will get a thank-you card. (Courtesy David Kelly)
Thomas Lisle
Thomas Lisle makes soap for class. (Courtesy David Kelly)
Michael Serrano
Michael Serrano shows off soap he made for chemistry class. (Courtesy David Kelly)
Massimo Illari
Massimo Illari holds a bar of handmade soap. (Courtesy David Kelly)
Mariela Mencho
Mariela Mecho shows a handmade soap she made. (Courtesy David Kelly)
soap and cards
thank you card
Thomas Lisle
Michael Serrano
Massimo Illari
Mariela Mencho

After a Fairfax County, Virginia, teacher found out almost a quarter of his students had a parent who lost a job because of the pandemic, he and his class launched a unique project to help them.

David Kelly and his eighth-grade science students at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke started a GoFundMe drive called Soap For Hope.

“We’re using our chemistry skills that they’ve learned to make soap,” Kelly said.

Anyone who donates $10 or more will be mailed a bar of handmade soap and a personalized thank-you letter.

Students made the soaps at home, all at once, while connected remotely as a class.

“Some students were able to get supplies. Some parents donated and distributed supplies. I had supplies and gave it out,” Kelly said. “It’s just been so overwhelming to see the community coming together to get this project going.”

Kelly said his students have gone beyond his soap-making expectations, using molds to create fun shapes and adding scents from essential oils. One student, however, may have crossed a scented line.

“A student made Hollister cologne soap. I guess (they) sprayed their cologne into it,” Kelly said, laughing. “Someone on the GoFundMe requested, ‘Can we get the one that did the Hollister cologne?’ I was like, ‘Oh gosh, sure, take it.’ My place is starting to smell like Bath & Body Works.”

The class hopes to raise $15,000. When the drive ends, all the money collected will be distributed equally to the affected student families.

“What’s amazing about it is, to me, I feel like they’re learning how to put others in front of themselves. Which at eighth grade, it’s all about me,” said Kelly. “I’ve just never seen so much effort by eighth-grade students.”

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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