Plum Point Elementary School Principal Joyce King was a little taken aback when one of her fifth graders came to her with not only a proposal, but tentative dates and a flier for how to present her idea to the school.
The idea was for the entire school to participate in a “Clean the World” soap drive, which the student, 11-year-old Amitha Patel, read about in a Jan. 8 article from The Washington Post’s travel section titled “A green, clean recycling machine.”
Amitha explained that the article states that Clean the World, a three-year-old Orlando, Fla.-based nonprofit, was started by two men who wondered how much soap was thrown out in hotels without even being touched and how this soap could help others.
Since then Clean the World’s initiative, Amitha said, has been to collect both new and used soap and then sanitizing it and molding it into same-size bars, which are distributed to third-world countries.
“People in third-world countries, they don’t have soap so they get more diseases,” Amitha said.
She said she and King decided to hold the drive in the spring and from April 30 to May 14, students were encouraged to bring in at least one bar of soap.
“They had a contest where whatever grade brought in the most soap got treated to ice cream at recess … a little friendly competition,” Amitha said.
Amitha and her fellow fifth grade friends, Carissa and Bailey Lauer, Mia Isaac, Sydney Koteff, Tori Howard and Mary George Gipson, counted the soap totals on Tuesday and came to a total of 220.4 pounds of soap for the whole school.
The third grade won the grade contest with 67.85 pounds of soap.
King said she expected the students to count the soap by bars, but it was actually Amitha’s idea to count it by ounces and then divide the number of ounces by 16 to get the total pounds.
Amitha said counting by ounces made more sense because several of the bars were different sizes.
“That was totally on their own, I had no input on that,” King said with a chuckle. “It amazes me the leadership that Amitha displays.”
The final numbers indicate that the kindergarteners collected 40.8 pounds; the first graders collected 17.8 pounds; the second graders collected 31.9 pounds; the fourth graders collected 41.2 pounds; and the fifth graders collected 20.7 pounds.
Amitha and her friends made the final soap count announcement on the school’s morning TV show.