A group of high school women from Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest, Illinois organized a toiletry drive for Common Hope’s families as part of their service project. These young ladies are members of the Women’s Club, a philanthropic, volunteer-based group that focuses on impacting women in both a national and international setting. They diligently planned, organized and collected for their drive, and in doing so, they satisfied our entire year’s need for hygienic products!

Community Outreach Team member Katie Begley with her sponsored student

Motivating others to take action

The Women’s Club became involved with Common Hope thanks to Katie Begley, a dedicated Community Outreach Team member who serves as a Common Hope liaison in the Chicago-Milwaukee area. Katie has been a part of the Community Outreach Team since its foundation, she became a sponsor the very first day she heard about Common Hope, and she has been on two Vision Team trips and one graduation trip. As part of her outreach work, Katie gave a presentation about Common Hope to the Women’s Club last year and highlighted the ways they could get involved. Katie says the girls were immediately drawn to Common Hope’s mission and their enthusiasm was palpable. Soon after the presentation, the board members of the Women’s Club decided that they wanted to organize a toiletry drive. Katie explains that the girls believed that collecting toiletries would be something special specifically for mothers, which made it a fitting project since their primary focus is on women.

The three-week-long drive rendered impressive results. Katie says that when she went to pick up the donation, she expected a couple of grocery bags worth of toiletries, but what she found was enough items to fill three large bins to the top. “I couldn’t believe the quantity of items they collected! It’s really neat to see 14 to 18 year olds get excited about this,” she says. The girls were overwhelmed by the response and support they received from people who donated toiletries, especially since it was the first time they had organized a drive like this one. Katie explains that it was a very touching and humbling experience for the Women’s Club—a feeling she is no stranger to,

“I’ve done my own mini supply drives, and it’s always amazing how generous people will be; you just have to give them the opportunity. Everyone wants to give something; so really, it’s always easier than it sounds.”

A service project that builds resumes

The Lake Forest High School’s Women’s Club held a drive and fulfilled our entire year’s need of toiletries!

Apart from feeling the joy of helping others, the Women’s Club also gained hands-on, resume-building experience by managing a project, step by step, from start to finish. These students had a role in marketing and publicity, designing and distributing flyers, making daily announcements over the PA system, and strategically placing donation boxes to hold toiletries in high-traffic areas of their school. What is more, they engaged their fellow classmates and community members and leveraged their interest to collect a large amount of shampoos, conditioners, soaps and more. “What these young women gained goes beyond just feeling good about yourself,” Katie says, “They executed a project from A to Z, and they learned the importance of following through with their promises, which is something that will apply to everything in their future and will translate to other aspects like college, their first job or philanthropic work.” The Women’s Club has stated that Common Hope is their international organization and they will continue to give their support in years to come. Katie says she will continue to facilitate the group by meeting at the beginning of the school year to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going. “I’m thrilled it went so successfully and there’s a lot more to come from this group,” she affirms.

Apart from collaborating with Common Hope, the Women’s Club volunteer record includes: raising money for GLASA and PKD by gift-wrapping during the holidays, making Valentine’s Day kits for Children’s Memorial Hospital, organizing a drive for the Glass Slipper Project, a program that collects prom dresses and redistributes them to girls in the Chicago area who cannot afford them, and sponsoring a senior citizens carnival at Lake Forest Place.

Thank you to Katie Begley for facilitating the Women’s Club’s toiletry drive, to Kathy O’Hara, the club advisor, for helping the Women’s Club connect with Common Hope, and to the Women’s Club members for doing a wonderful job of collecting toiletries for our families! If you are interested in organizing your own drive, please contact Kallie Sandell by email: kallies@us.commonhope.org or by phone: 651-287-0712.