This isn’t your mother’s Avon lady

Written by Linda Lemond. Posted in Community News, Featured

Published on May 08, 2012 with No Comments

Wanda Gilbert improves lives in her community

Those of us old enough to remember the commercial—“Ding, dong! Avon calling!”—recall the iconic images of women in their gloves, heels and hats bringing cosmetics to the home.

Today, the method of selling Avon has changed.  Although sales are still made face-to-face, many are done by phone or online.  The emphasis of Avon has broadened, too.  Through their Avon Foundation for Women, they seek to “improve the lives of women globally.”

Avon representative Wanda Gilbert is not your mother’s Avon lady.  She saw an opportunity to improve lives here in her community through her Avon business.

Like many personal hygiene items, deodorant cannot be purchased with food stamps.  With even generic deodorant priced at three or four dollars, many people cannot afford it.  Food pantries do not always have items like this available.

“I wanted to try to provide this for people in need.  The idea was actually suggested to me by my District Manager, Sherri Christopher,” Gilbert said.  “We had a campaign in which a roll-on anti-perspirant/deodorant was priced at 79 cents.  That’s a lot of ‘bang for the buck.’”

She brought the idea to the members of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Portage, where she works as secretary.  The church council approved the outreach project.  Members could either order directly through Gilbert or put money toward the project in a basket following the services.

This started the ball rolling with over 100 roll-ons purchased.

“I mentioned it to one of my customers, Wanda Samuelson, who attends First United Methodist Church in Portage.  Within days she called me and said the church would buy 160,” Gilbert said.  “The Sunset Hill Farm Sunsetters 4-H group also gave $10 toward the project.  Many of my other customers purchased them for the project.”

In all, Gilbert was able to provide 378 roll-ons, suitable for men or women.  She gave 150 of those to the Portage Food Pantry and 150 to the Salvation Army.

Vicki Burge, Social Services Director for the Salvation Army center in South Haven, accepted the donation with gratitude.

“This is something people really need.  They don’t want to go to a job interview without deodorant.  Right now the Salvation Army is desperate for items like these as well as food and monetary donations because the needs have increased so radically.  We’ve experienced a 550% increase in usage over the past year.”

Sarah Tracy, Portage Food Pantry Director of Volunteers and President of the Board of Directors, agreed.

“Where do people’s necessities lie?  With food to feed their families.  When you think of it, this is a huge sacrifice: to walk around stinky without a basic personal hygiene product like this so your kids can eat.  A project like this helps give people some dignity.”

“It’s not just for adults,” Burge added.  “Even 10-year-olds can need deodorant.  We want kids to go to school feeling confident about that.”

“The need is there,” Gilbert said.  “I have been blessed and I want to reach out to bless others.  There was an overwhelmingly positive response.  I have 78 left and still have some money coming in.  I hope to donate some to Gabriel’s Horn, the Caring Place and New Creations.  I would love to see more churches and organizations partnering with us on this.  I’d like to see it become a semi-annual event.”

Frederick Hoover, pastor of St. Peter, said, “It would be awesome to have other churches jump on board.  As people see something like this in the paper, maybe they’ll say, ‘Hey! I’d like to get in on that.  I’d like to help, too.’”

For further information, please call Wanda Gilbert at 219-395-6607 or visit www.youravon.com/wgilbert.

Pictured (left-right) Vicki Burge of the Porter County Salvation Army, Wanda Gilbert, Pastor Fred Hoover and Sarah Tracy of the Portage Food Pantry show the Avon roll-on deodorants purchased through a recent fundraiser. Photo by Linda Lemond

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