When something touches your heart, it can lead to great things. That’s what happened when Abby Thompson, a sophomore at Liberty HS, saw the need for necessities by many in the local area. That concern was the springboard for her spearheading a project with the Bethlehem YMCA to establish a Hygiene Box at its facilities for those who cannot afford basic hygienic necessities.
Her GoFundMe campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/f/bethlehem-hygiene-box) is doing well, having raised $825.00 of the $1,500 goal. Thompson currently has enough for the first box and all of the supplies, and is now fundraising for the second box.
“This project holds a special place in my heart and is very important to me,” Thompson said.
“I walk around town or drive to many places, and see people sitting on the side of the road with little food and no shelter,” she exaplined. “I have also volunteered at a food bank and seen some terrible things. These are some of the reasons that have driven me to starting this project.
“I am very proud of how far it has come, and happy about pursuing something I am very passionate about.”
As Thompson states on her Bethlehem Hygiene Box GoFundMe page, “Hi, my name is Abby Thompson, I am 15 years old, and I am a sophomore at Liberty HS. There are a lot of people in our community who are struggling with basic necessities during this difficult time, and I need your help. I am partnering with the Bethlehem YMCA to place two hygiene boxes at their facility for those in need. I am raising money to purchase the boxes and their first products. I am planning to sustain the boxes with corporate donations. Please help me get started on this important endeavor! A kind donation of just $5 will help buy 50 razors, 72 travel size deodorants, 96 individual oral care kits, 500 band aids, 100 individual Q-tip packages, or 180 individual sized bottles of mouthwash. Thank you in advance for your support and generosity in helping our community!”
“This was all Abby’s idea,” says Tiffany Henning, branch executive director of the Bethlehem Branch of Greater Valley YMCA. “Our clients, members and children wanted to help her out with something that’s good for the community.”
“It will benefit the people here,” Henning adds, noting the Bethlehem YMCA has 34 rooms and currently 32 low-income residents.
Dave Orinski, Thompson’s stepfather, said once Abby had the idea, she needed a place to put the box, so she wrote to the YMCA with her idea and they met with her and granted permission.
“She is a good kid,” Orinski says. “She is a member of a teen MENSA group, and they stress community service. She has volunteered well more than her graduation requirement. It sounds trite, but she is absolutely selfless.”
Reflecting on how the project began, Orinski says there are many free little library boxes around the Lehigh Valley, one in Hanover Township where they live, but they are strictly for books.
“Having gone through the pandemic, Abby understood a lot of people were losing jobs and couldn’t afford things like deodorant or toothpaste. So she thought of a similar box idea but for hygiene items.”
Orinski said the current goal is for two boxes along with all of the supplies to fill it weekly for one year. The boxes are $500 each, and the supplies for the box when you purchase in bulk are about $500 each. Thompson recently finished painting the first box.
“Abby is hopeful to raise $2,000 in time, but would be happy to take donations of supplies instead of cash because we have to purchase the bulk supplies and it would be easier if businesses donated items,” Orinski said.
Thompson did reach out to a number of corporate places like Johnson & Johnson and Proctor and Gamble, but also to places like Marriott for such things as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, but she was rejected by all of those places.
“Not to be deterred, we will just buy the first year of supplies,” Orinski said. She currently has enough for supplies for the first box.
The first box will be installed on the lawn near the entrance of the Bethlehem YMCA at 430 E. Broad St.
An active student, Thompson plays varsity basketball at Liberty, where her twin sister Jordan, and stepbrother Chase, are also college-bound sophomores. She has been dual enrolled at Northampton County Community College since eighth grade.
Thompson is secretary of the Interact Club at Liberty, a community service club that works in partnership with the Bethlehem Rotary. Club members have begun collecting items for the boxes.
“After high school, I plan to go to college, and become a criminal prosecutor,” Thompson said. “I am very excited to see where I go in my next few years.”
By Tami Quigley
Story by LVP News
Special to The Bethlehem Press