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State Honoree

Eden Sapien

Phoenix , Arizona

Eden Sapien, 13, of Phoenix, Ariz., a member of Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council and an eighth-grader at Stetson Hills Elementary School, assembled nearly 1,000 toiletry bags of soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion collected from local hotels, and then delivered them to a rescue mission that serves the homeless in her community. Her project sprang from an article about a charity that recycles soap from hotels for people living in poverty in other countries. “I thought it was a great idea,” said Eden. “I see more and more people who are living on the streets and don’t have the basics that we all take for granted, and I wanted to help.”

She visited the Phoenix Rescue Mission and learned that handing out soap and other hygiene products not only prevents disease, but also is key to creating trust with homeless people and encouraging them to accept other available services. So Eden sent 30 letters to hotels in her city, asking for used bars of soap and empty shampoo bottles. With hardly any response, she made personal visits to each of the hotels on weekends. Finally, three of them agreed to her request. After winning a $500 grant to buy soap-making supplies and shampoo, Eden recruited 18 friends and family members to shred, melt and mold soap bars in her backyard, and fill bottles with shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Over two days, they packaged 965 toiletry bags for the mission to distribute. Eden also provided people experiencing homelessness with 144 toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and deodorant products.