Memorial senior finds with elbow grease, a little SOAP goes a long way

For Emily David, community service is a life style.

“It’s not something to check off a to-do list,” David said.

After volunteering at St. Vincent’s emergency care, David said it opened her eyes of the need in the community.

She took some time to think what she could do something different to help. She grew up participating in canned food drives — so she began to think about something that’s important to her — hygiene.

The Memorial High School senior started a project that community members could get involved with last year. The project SOAP, or Sending Others Abundant Purity, distributed more than 11,550 items to 17 organizations.

Continuing the project for a second year, David has been collecting toiletry items for the past week with collection of donated items continuing through Friday at several locations around Evansville and Vanderburgh County.

David is hopeful SOAP can give to at least 17 organizations again this year, if not more.

“I looked on local charities’ websites and their need lists, and I found toiletries to be a very essential need,” she said.

David said Youth Resources Teen Advisory Council, of which she is the president, requires students to complete 15 hours of community service each year.

“I’m not so concerned about the service hours I have, it’s more of habitual thing,” she said.

She said she has approximately 400 hours, which she has to keep record of for school and resumes, but she’s not doing just for those reasons.

“I’m changed by what I see,” David said. “There’s always something that needs to be done, and through SOAP — it’s really shaped my passion for social action — and that’s going to be the basis of what I pursue in college.”

With David leaving for college next year, she has recruited several other youths to help and continue SOAP after she graduates.

Meghan Lasher helped David last year, and she said SOAP received a lot of positive feedback the response back from the organizations SOAP gave items to.

“I think it’s very important to help out the community, not just to show how much we care about the society, but also to realize how many people in the world are less fortunate than us just in our Tri-State area,” the New Tech Institute junior said.

Savene Billa, who helped SOAP for the first time this year, said helping others and the connections that grow from service projects are important for projects like SOAP.

“It may not be for everyone, but for me, I love seeing people’s reactions to things like this,” Billa said. “Seeing the people you’re affecting — I love that part.”