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Bars of Blessings . . . Making Soap

What were some of your favorite gifts this year? Perhaps a sweater, a power tool, or a bar of white soap. A simple bar of soap?? Probably not. But in some locations, soap is not an item to put on the shopping list, but a rare luxury and brings joy to a mother like candy does to a child.

One of the ways that HarvestCall serves others is to produce, package, and distribute soap. January and February is soap-making season at the Wolcott, IN Center, where soap is made about four evenings a week. Soap is also produced in West Bend, IA every Thursday evening from December through March. Combined, those two areas produce about 44 ton (235,000 bars) in a typical year.

 The Life Cycle of a Bar of Soap

Soap production begins with mixing lard, lye, and water in large mixers for 18 minutes. Next, the mixture is poured into oversized ice cube trays to set up and dry. The final step is packaging the bars of soap. Some of the bars of soap are also set aside to be ground for laundry detergent.

Soap is distributed locally, nationally, and internationally. Food pantries within the Midwest appreciate the soap. Various organizations ship soap to areas such as Syria or Africa or South America. Many bars are distributed by HarvestCall. Some are given to the students and families who come to the Child Sponsorship office in Haiti. Also, many bars are placed in a drawstring bag along with other items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, and comb to create a Health kit. Health kits are sent to Mexico, Haiti, and Jamaica. (More information about health kits can be found at www.harvestcall.org/making-kits.)

Soap Making Continues

Soap making began 25 years ago. (Back then, it involved rendering lard, stirring with paint stirrers, and cutting into bars with piano wire.) With the help of many volunteers, soap making continues. In Wolcott, teams of 4-6 people make soap, teams of 3-4 people grind soap, and many, many volunteers help package the soap. In West Bend, about 10 volunteers package the soap each work night while two others help mix up a new batch. The help is much appreciated, especially by those who receive the blessing of a bar of soap.

Special Time Working Together Makes Special Soap

Perhaps you have some decorative soap that you set out only for company. In Africa, the soap that HarvestCall has produced is that special soap. They have commented that it seems a waste to use it in daily life, so they keep it for special occasions, calling it their “good soap.”

Those who go to the work nights and participate in the soap making would also agree that it is special, not because of the recipe or because of their hands, but because of gathering together with brothers, sisters, converts, and friends who care about ministering to others. Not everyone can go to Africa, but many can be a part of the labors of love that culminates in a special product and everyone can pray that the recipients will feel God’s love.

Soap making is just one of many projects that helps fulfill HarvestCall’s mission. Volunteers are blessed with edifying activities which nurture the believer. Recipients are blessed by a bar of soap which demonstrates the love of Christ with deeds of compassion and is “given in the name of Jesus Christ.”