Being clean is a privilege some just can’t afford.
Since the pandemic, the importance of keeping germs at bay has become a priority for everyone, but some Saratoga children are going unwashed simply because basic hygiene products aren’t available for them to use at home.
Even before the current crisis, Grace Firehock, now a senior at Saratoga Springs High School, saw there were students in need. In the Spring of 2019, she started Toga Toiletries to provide access to toiletries and personal hygiene products to students in need.
“I just wanted all high schoolers to have basic toiletries and to have easy access to them,” she said.
Grace and her parents purchased supplies to fill a closet in the school guidance office. Then, she began sending out requests for others to help.
Grace’s efforts have resulted in donations from Billington Family Dentistry, Hannaford Supermarkets, Byrne Orthodontics, Arbonne, and numerous local families.
Now, Toga Toiletries are available to children throughout the Saratoga Springs City School District. Working with the Saratoga Food Pantry, Community Health Center, and SNACpack, they are also able to deliver toiletries to children.
The SNACpack Program (Saratoga Nutrition Assistance for Children) is seeing more children than ever in need of food and essential care items.
“Toga Toiletries is providing a wonderful, much-needed service for children and families! During this very difficult time where many families have lost income, toiletries have truly become a luxury that many cannot afford,” said SNACpack’s founder Karey Trimmings.
FINDING TIME TO BE KIND
Grace Firehock finds time to package hygiene products for Toga Toiletries in between her already busy schedule, which also includes playing varsity tennis, Irish step and piano classes, skiing, and her other volunteer efforts.
“Grace has always had a very philanthropic attitude. She took an idea and found a way to bring it to life. Her work has allowed families in the community to save money on expensive hygiene and toiletry products, which became especially helpful during the pandemic as some households struggle to pay bills due to lost employment,” said school counselor, Siobahn LaMar.
“This endeavor hasn’t just benefited people in the community, it has also had a tremendous impact on Grace. A bit quiet and shy by nature, this experience has pushed her out of her comfort zone needing to ask strangers for donations. Her confidence has grown, along with her presentation skills. Grace is a great role model to her peers and younger siblings, and we hope to see the community continue to benefit from her efforts after she graduates,” she continued.
The benefits of helping others are especially poignant for Grace when she receives emails from recipients expressing their gratitude and accompanied by photos of the children she is helping.
“It has an impact. It feels amazing to know I’ve helped people at this time,” said Grace.
Grace’s younger siblings have been helping package items and her sister, Caroline Firehock, a sophomore, will inherit Toga Toiletries when Grace graduates to ensure its continuation for years to come.