Vol. 20, No. 15
May 3, 2001
Resident assistant launches
Margot Zarella, AS 2002, is queen of the soapsnot soap operas, but Soap for Hope, which she began to benefit children in Haiti.
The idea for Soap for Hope bubbled forth after a global awareness retreat when Zarella was attending Norwest High School in West Hartford, Conn. One of the speakers was Karen Kohl of an interdenominational group, the Haitian Health Foundation, who told about its out-patient clinic in Jeremie, Haiti, which gave children a cake of soap and washcloth after they completed their vaccinations. Zarella spoke to Kohl and decided to launch Soap for Hope.
"Soap costs a day's pay in Haiti, so it's a luxury. Giving away the soap encourages personal hygiene and also getting vaccinated in a country which has many health problems," Zarella said.
During her junior year in high school, Zarella collected 635 bars of soap for the foundation.
During her junior year at Delaware, Zarella collected 16,462 cakes of soap. That's a lot of suds, and storing it was a challenge. The St. Thomas More Oratory helped out, but much of it (8,300 cakes) was in Zarella's roomunder the bed, the desk, in the closet. Literally, there was a single aisle for walking through the room, she recalled.
Zarella is a resident assistant and Soap for Hope became a Residence Life program. In addition to the St. Thomas More Oratory, which came on the wash board during her freshman year at UD, many other churches have helped out. Volunteers for the Haitian Health Foundation also cut and hem washcloths from old towels for the project.
The first year of Soap for Hope, a soapmobile transported the soap to Norwich, Conn., where the foundation was located. This year, a truck had to be rented. The foundation fills up containers twice a year with medical and other supplies, including the soap and washcloths, for Haiti.
Zarella's project has brought her the attention of the media. She was featured on Fox News and written up in newspapers in Connecticut and Delaware.
During her senior year, Zarella said she plans to continue Soap for Hope with the help of volunteers and she said she hopes the project will continue at Delaware after she graduates. "It's a simple and easy way to help care for others," she said.
After graduation, she said she plans to go to Haiti and spend a month at the foundation, undoubtedly with a suitcase of soap in hand.