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Teacher, students lead 'Soap For Hope' to help those in need

Posted at 1:25 PM, May 25, 2020

BURKE, Va. – A Virginia teacher helped his eight-grade science students turn kitchens into classrooms for a good cause.

“I just touch the gas pedal and it’s really them just taking off,” David Kelly said.

All of the students are part of a fundraising effort called, “Soap for Hope,” which is creating brightly decorated soaps to help those in need.

It all started with a seemingly benign questionnaire that Kelly sent out to all his students, before remote learning got underway.

"I asked the students if a direct family member has been impacted due to a loss of job because of the coronavirus,” he said.

Kelly was shocked. Nearly a quarter of them replied, “yes.”

“It definitely struck a nerve,” he said.

That’s when an idea began to take shape.

“I made a really small bar of soap as an idea and what they have created is unbelievable,” Kelly said.

The students decided they were in and started putting their chemistry skills to use to create that enemy to viruses – soap – which, through GoFundMe, is helping raise money for those in need. They’ve raised more than $15,000 so far.

“It was fun because you could do different types of things, you could mix colors together, mix essential oils together,” said A.J. Cowart, one of Kelly’s students. “It makes me feel good that we are helping people out, who are actually in need and are having a hard time right now.”

Student Katherine Halick said it has also been a lesson in teamwork.

“It’s a lot of fun for me to do it because you can experiment with different types of like food coloring, glycerin, essential oils,” she said. “We’re all doing this together to help all these people who have lost their jobs and we’re just changing lives.”

Each soap comes with a handwritten note from the student that made it for the donor.

“The students are writing these really nice, heartfelt handwritten letters to people,” Kelly said. "With all the people that are isolated, just reading some encouraging note has really changed lives.”

That includes how this effort is changing the lives of these students.

“To see actually what they’ve done at such an early age in their life, I think is going to do wonders in their life later on,” Kelly said.

The money will be distributed to families of students in need at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia.

As for some of the students working on Soap For Hope, A.J. said he plans to be a mechanical engineer one day and Katherine wants to be a doctor.