Mimi Golding is an operations manager for an international organization and community activist. She’s also a knitter, who decided to put her hobby to charitable use by making Clean Kits, small packages of personal care items she donates to people in need.
Each one contains a knitted washcloth, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and soap. In 2012, Golding made 50 Clean Kits. This year she’s made over 100, and she’s still going strong.
Golding calls herself a “one skein wonder.” She started making washcloths out of lighter cotton when it was too hot to knit with wool, and she didn’t stop.
“It was getting ridiculous. I had so many,” laughs Golding. “What could I do with them?”
It was around this time that she found the direction she needed: a great sale on bars of soap and a funding drive hosted by the Shepherds of Good Hope. The idea came together quickly at that point.
“I just packaged them all up, handed them to my husband, and sent him to drop them off.”
It takes about two hours to knit each washcloth and she works in batches of 25 because it’s easier to track.
Although Golding enlists her kids to help her on occasion, she can’t do it entirely alone. Golding relies heavily on donations of products that fit the theme behind Clean Kits.
“Toothbrushes and toothpaste are the number one item at any emergency food centre,” says Golding.
Other items on her wishlist include soap, razors, dental floss, and travel-sized shampoo and conditioner. Donations of soft craft cotton are also welcome.
Everything is packaged with care, and she tucks a note into each one as well.
“Everyone gets a message, just to let them know that they’re special to somebody,” says Golding. “It’s a welcoming thing, a loving thing. It’s their very own, and not just shoved in a bag with their groceries.”
Golding dropped off 50 kits to Parkdale Food Centre recently, all of which went to children. She points out a recent news item about children’s dental care being on the decline.
“People cannot necessarily afford this,” says Golding. “Sometimes a choice has to be made between housing, good food, and dental care.”
These kinds of items – staples of basic hygiene – are not as cheap as most people think.
“Typically a toothbrush lasts about six months,” says Golding. “Toothpaste you can go through much faster. These things add up. Toothbrushes are not cheap anymore, and plain toothpaste is harder to find. It’s a challenge.”
Her latest batch of Clean Kits are packaged in brown paper bags, not because they’re inexpensive, but because “brown paper packages, tied up with string” are reminiscent of a gift that’s worth giving, and receiving.
A number of different organizations have received Clean Kits, including local homeless shelters and emergency food centres.
“They’re always in need of things like this,” says Golding. “There are always people who arrive at those places without anything.”
More information about the Clean Kits is available right here.