VICTORIA -- Soap for Hope Canada launched an Indigenous online art auction this past weekend – which features close to 100 donated pieces of artwork from B.C. and Alberta artists – to help raise funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The non-profit organization, which has facilities in Victoria and Calgary, provides personal hygiene products like soap and shampoo to people in need across this province and Alberta.

Partnering with local hotels and using volunteers, Soap for Hope diverts and recycles gently used amenities that would otherwise be thrown out. The organization then reprocesses the personal hygiene products into useable personal care items.

The new hygiene products are then sent to remote Indigenous communities and to marginalized groups that need it most, such as homeless shelters, transition houses and food banks.

The program strives to eliminate as much waste from landfills as possible, while also providing an essential service to community facilities and marginalized groups.

However, due to COVID-19, many hotel donations of used soap and shampoo have plummeted, forcing Soap for Hope to buy new product to keep up with demand.

The newly launched online art auction is the organization’s way of raising funds to offset the drop in donations so that Soap for Hope’s work with close to 250 community facilities and Indigenous communities can continue.

“So, 100 per cent of the proceeds raised from this online art auction will stay within the community,” said Danijela Brkovic, Indigenous relations coordinator for Soap For Hope.

“It will help us grow our circle of giving so we can actually reach out into more nations and more communities and help them out in their time of need.”

Hygiene products are essential to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are not always accessible for the most vulnerable, or for those living in remote communities.

“By ensuring nobody ever has to hope for soap, we empower individuals to achieve everything they are capable of,” reads the Soap for Hope website.

“Through hygiene, we build communities, support each other and bring together individuals.”

Soap For Hope Canada also provides gently used bed linens, duvets, pillows, robes and slippers to those in need. The household items are largely donated to the organization through hotel partners.

The Soap For Hope online Indigenous art auction can be found here and runs from Aug. 1 to Aug 15.

“Not only is it an opportunity for us to raise funds to continue to offer our support, it’s an opportunity for artists to offer their craft,” said Kara Udell, Victoria-area program coordinator for Soap For Hope.

“Their art is powerful and can speak volumes and can raise awareness about the beauty that is in our neighbourhood.”