Spa Swag for Warriors
Bringing a Touch of Luxury to our Women Warriors
Lacey Chang has a good friend named Becca, a Marine Corps officer who was deployed to rural West Africa during the Ebola crisis in late 2014. Because Becca was in what was considered a “hardship tour” region, she did not have regular access to bath, body, and feminine hygiene products, potable water, or even a shower—they sometimes used buckets to bathe. She could only carry the essentials in her pack.
Hearing this, Chang was motivated to help, and talked to her female friends in the D.C./Northern Virginia area. They spend the season cleaning out their cabinets, gathering up trial and travel-size body, bath and beauty products, which the Chang packaged up and mailed to Becca and the four other female soldiers stationed with her.
With the enthusiastic response she received, Chang decided to offer the same service to other female warriors, and started her 501(c)(3) organization in January 2015 called Spa Swag for Warriors (SSFW). Along with Board president Hiba Alyawer and vice president Corinne Price, the women rely on volunteers and donations to make the process work.
“Most of our funding comes through donations from corporate sponsors or individuals,” Chang explained. “We are grateful to have ongoing support from corporate sponsors Schatz Hayes Homes, JBC Events, Koon Arlington Toyota, A3 Advisory Services, Inductive Minds, Doumar Martin PLLC, and the Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Foundation that supplied SSFW with a grant for 2016.”
Most swag bag recipients are referred to SSFW by friends, but others find it through social media or the organization’s website. Once they are on the list, they will continue to receive packages as long as they remain on hardship tours, about one package per season. So far, packages have been shipped to women soldiers in Qatar, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and on Persian Gulf ships.
“In 2015, we sent out about 40 packages that served about 300 women,” Chang said. She hopes to increase the number to 200 boxes in 2016. Each box can serve between six and 12 women.
“We have a number of goals for this year,” she continued. “We want to professionalize our look with our packaging, website and social media campaigns, and we’d like to find someone locally to donate a small portion of warehouse space.” (Right now products are stored in a Nebraska warehouse.)
She’d also love to have more corporate involvement, both in donations of items and financial backing. “This way, I wouldn’t have to wait for donations from individuals.” Already, companies including Arbonne International, Murad, Mary Kay, Tom’s of Maine, Drybar, Cate McNabb and others have donated most-wanted products.
“Our goal is to provide high-quality products to our soldiers,” she said, bringing a little bit of luxury with items like skin creams, lavender-scented face wipes, and high-end shampoos. “It’s important to me that we send items I have used or tried and that will appeal to a wide range of ages and skin types.”
“Female soldiers put up with a lot overseas, and I think women instinctively understand that providing restorative products can have an immediate impact on their morale and well-being. We get grateful comments like ‘It’s nice to have something that smells wonderful after a long day in the field.’
“We care for those who serve, and are committed to making a difference, one spa swag bag at a time,” she said. “Women who serve our country deserve the best and I hope that in some small way, we can make their day just a little better.”
Financial donations are always welcome, and can be provided through the organization’s website. In addition, manpower is always needed. “We can use assistance with packing and shipping,” Chang said. “I think it would be a great project for a civic organization, a Girl Scout troop or a sorority, who could help us package items into ‘spa swag’ bags on a Saturday afternoon on a bi-monthly basis.”
“We’re a small nonprofit organization and we’d love the local women to get involved,” Chang added. If you have connections in the beauty industry, or can help pack or donate, you too can be a part of helping the women who serve our country get the essentials they need—and a little bit of luxury to boot.
Spa Swag for Warriors