[EDITOR'S NOTE — Difference Makers articles share stories of the local heroes making a difference during the extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic. This section is made possible by Eastwood Mall and named in honor of Mark Eckert, who made a difference in the Mahoning Valley.]
BELOIT — Sophia’s Essential Supplies creates and donates baskets of essential items to people who need assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative was started by 12-year-old Sophia Capron of Beloit, a sixth-grader at West Branch Middle School. She came up with Sophia’s Essential Supplies to help her community.
Recipients of Sophia’s Essential Supplies’ baskets can receive essential cleaning and hygiene products based on their needs. Basket items can include paper towels, laundry soap, bleach, toilet paper, disinfectant, bars and hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razors, feminine hygiene products, diapers, diaper wipes, bottles, and children’s shampoo and body wash.
“When I first heard about the [stay at home order] it made me feel really upset for people who couldn’t go shopping, couldn’t go to work or afford to stay at home and they couldn't get the stuff they needed,” Sophia said. “So I asked my mom if we can do anything, and we both came up with an idea to make a couple of baskets and then think of things that people would need and then we drop them off and they were gone really quick.”
The initiative’s Facebook group, Sophia’s Essential Supplies, now has more than 700 members and has donated over 100 baskets since mid-March.
Capron’s mother, Megan Blake, said the labor of love is “a lot of work” and she often goes to multiple stores to find all of the essential items she needs.
Sophia’s Essential Supplies has an abundance of support through its GoFundMe page, Sophia’s Essential Supplies, T-shirt sales from Rochelle’s Custom Creations where a portion of the proceeds from each $20 shirt sale goes toward funding baskets and a donation drop off box at Family Dollar at 17994 Harrisburg Westville Road.
So far, Sophia’s Essential Supplies has raised nearly $3,000 through fundraising.
“I don’t like seeing anyone not being able to get what they need,” Sophia said.
According to Megan, the baskets are not available for purchase and are only donated to people in need of essential items.
Those interested can contact Megan and Sohpia on Sophia’s Essentia Supplies Facebook group. Baskets are donated through Facebook giveaways on a first-come, first-served basis.
“It turned into something huge,” Megan said. “We kind of have to wait until the little spurts of fundings will come in, and then we'll make up the baskets. Then we have to post them on our Facebook group and then it's like ‘the first person to comment gets this basket,’ if that basket contains the items that you're in need of.”
“We’re not professionals, we’re totally just winging it. So, this was the best way we could come up with together to do our part,” Megan added.
Throughout the lifespan of Sophia’s Essential Supplies, the mother and daughter duo have created a few memories that they will cherish long after the pandemic.
For Sophia, it’s reaching her first large milestone of donating 50 baskets.
“That made me extremely happy,” she said.
Megan, however, was touched by the reaction of the recipient of their mother's day giveaway for single mothers.
“We did this drawing and it went to an older lady who actually hadn't seen her kids and hasn't been able to be in touch with them,” she said. “It actually brought her to tears when we dropped off that box. I think that was pretty special.”
Sophia said if there’s one thing she wants the world to know, it’s to stay safe and keep smiling.
“Honestly, it was Sophie’s idea. She's a pretty inspirational little girl, she has a very big heart, she's very sensitive and she really gets a lot of joy out of helping others,”Megan said.