Oct. 4, 2010
Renee DeGross Valdes, 404-413-1353
ATLANTA - Each day, more than 2 million of bars of soap are discarded in American hotels - soap that could be recycled into bars that could help protect children in refugee camps from disease and death.
A team of Georgia State University students in the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality now has joined forces with the Atlanta-based Global Soap Project to help raise money and awareness to bring sanitized soap to those in need.
On October 14, hospitality students and other volunteers with the GSU chapter of the Global Soap Project will be in the Library Plaza from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., selling bracelets and baked goods, and collecting wrapped bars of soap for the nonprofit organization. It's part of a broader effort to raise awareness on how simple hand washing can help eradicate illness and disease as part of the International Global Handwashing Day event.
Washing hands is most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries each year.
"Washing hands helps save lives," said Wil Bates, president of GSU's student chapter of the Global Soap Project. "To give back and do something to change lives is what influenced me to get involved."
The Atlanta-based Global Soap Project collects new soap and used bits of discarded hotel soap, which gets recycled into new bars. The project then donates the soap to refugees in Africa and elsewhere in the world through humanitarian relief organizations such as CARE and MedShare.
Derreck Kayongo, who launched Global Soap last year, has so far received more than 25 tons of discarded soap that they recycled for shipments to Haiti, Swaziland, Kenya and Uganda. He said the GSU Global Soap chapter is the first campus group in his organization. He hopes other universities will be inspired to help as a result of GSU's participation in the cause.
Kayongo spoke last week to a group of Georgia State students and told his story of fleeing Uganda as a child during the tyranny of Idi Amin in 1979. He lived in a refugee camp in Kenya where it was a luxury to have a bar of soap.
When he moved to the U.S. and learned how hotels discard more than 2.6 million bars of soap every day, he was inspired to start the Global Soap initiative.
Now many big hotel chains have latched on to the idea to do some good with their discarded bits of soap left behind by travelers. More than 200 hotels participate in the program and ship the soap directly to the Global Soap facility in Norcross where the bits are melted down and sanitized, then made into new bars for the needy.
Bates said GSU students involved in the project plan to volunteer at the Norcross facility next month, where they will help with the soap processing.
"We are getting the ball rolling on campus," Bates said of the Oct. 14 event. "If everyone brings one bar of soap to the event, Derreck and his team can send it to those who need it most."
For more information on GSU's student Global Soap chapter: http://robinson.gsu.edu/hospitality/organizations/gsp.html