PANAMA CITY -- It all started from a single Christmas list six years ago. And, now, Simply Self-Esteem is expanding its charitable operations to Holmes County.
"I opened the list that night in Walmart," the nonprofit organization's founder Allison Smith said, recalling the moment that led her to start Simply Self-Esteem in Bay County. "Her first thing was what you expect a 13-year-old girl to ask for: pretty clothes."
"But her second thing was 'my own toothbrush' and 'deodorant' was the third," Smith said.
Since then, the nonprofit organization has provided more than 1,200 care bags to teenagers in need. With the addition of Holmes County, Smith plans to make an even greater impact by providing an already requested 80 bags. Cold Steel Firearms, Inc., 1701 Waukesha, Suite A, is a drop-off location.
"I love the fact that it's expanding and it's growing," Smith said, later adding about the organization's objective, "this just boosts self-esteem."
Simply Self-Esteem serves Bay, Walton and Holmes counties.
The bags include adult-size hygiene products, such as, toothpaste, deodorant and body wash, also, feminine hygiene products.
"Teenagers are the last ones to get picked off of the trees," she said, alluding to common wish lists found at retail stores during the holiday season. "And, a lot of the times when you look at those lists, it's simply stuff like that -- it's clothing for school, it's school supplies, it's hygiene items we take for granted."
According to a the most recent report from Florida Department of Children and Family, Holmes County School District had 102 homeless student in 2014. Neighboring Washington County had 138.
"It's amazing what one simple act can do to help them finish high school," Smith said.
"Our big boost is Christmas," Smith said, reflecting on her desire to make sure the recipients receive personal items that will contribute positively to the way they feel about themselves. "At least these kids will go back with new everything."
To support the drive, visit simplyselfesteem.org, follow on Facebook or call Allison Smith at Herbafex at 850-230-1200.
A list of items needed:
Feminine hygiene products
*Any monetary donations will be used to buy supplies. Simply Self-Esteem is a 501(3)c and all donations are tax deductible.