Treehouse Soap owner Lea Bartlett wanted to do something sweet to help the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The handmade soap business made a new bar with local honey – “Bee 4 U” – and is donating all the proceeds to SIRCH Community Kitchen, which is providing free meals during the crisis. Bartlett is also offering free soap to interested community organizations, donating a batch to Community Living Trent Highlands May 8 to distribute to those in need.

“My initial thoughts were just to create a really healthy soap using local bee products and then it just evolved into, why not do this? This would just be good for everybody,” Bartlett said.

She added that soap and cleanliness are common topics due to COVID-19 and figured some organizations would be interested in her products.

“The donation goes to such a worthy cause,” she said, noting SIRCH is cooking 600-800 meals per week. “It’s an amazing number of people they help out.”

SIRCH food services co-ordinator Jay McIvor said the support the organization has gotten is fantastic.

“Just awesome. We are really overwhelmed with the community support. Kind of puts winds in our sails here,” McIvor said.

He noted other groups have also helped, including thousands of dollars worth of food donations from Sysco Canada and the Lakeside Baptist Church providing dessert for meals.

SIRCH has hired two full-time staff to manage the increased workload and McIvor said they expect to maintain a higher capacity throughout the pandemic, and likely beyond it, thanks to facility improvements such as freezers.

“We don’t expect the economy to jump right back into full gear. It’s probably going to go back slowly,” McIvor said. “I imagine there’s still going to be those food security issues we can meet.”

The soap was made with local ingredients, Bartlett said, adding bee products can make for quality soap. Each also features a stamp hand-carved by her 94-year-old father Joseph Gottfried.

“Honey is good for you, honey’s good for your skin,” she said. “Helps to keep the moisture at a good level.”

Bartlett said she hopes she can sell at least 200 of the new bars, valued at $9 each, to help SIRCH.

“That, to me, would be an amazing amount to contribute.”

“Bee 4 U” is available at treehousesoap.ca/products/bee-4-u-charity-soap.

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