Olney family is fighting 'hygiene poverty' in Philadelphia community

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Family is fighting 'hygiene poverty' in Philadelphia community
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Tanisha Singleton Thompson first saw the need for a service like this as a teacher. Students would ask her for hygiene products and she saw a difference in them when she could provide for their needs.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A family in the Olney section of Philadelphia is fighting what they call "hygiene poverty" while on a mission to make their community a better place.

There's a motto in the Thompson family home.

"Serve the people and God will serve you," Rahim Thompson recited to his wife, two daughters, and mother.

It's one that's taken quite literally, as the family of five has transformed their basement into a warehouse.

"We have toothbrushes, we have toothpaste, we have soap, we have body wash, we have shampoo," Rahim said pointing around the room, which serves as the current headquarters of the Team Thompson Family Foundation.

The foundation was created during the pandemic.

"When people think of poverty, they think of homelessness and hunger. They don't think about hygiene," he said.

The family relies on both corporate partners and community outreach to collect full-sized hygiene items and redistribute them to people in need.

"You can't tell a child to constantly wash their hands at home if they don't have the soap at home to do it," said Tanisha Singleton Thompson, Rahim's wife.

Tanisha first saw the need for a service like this as a teacher. Students would ask her for hygiene products and she saw a difference in them when she could provide for their needs.

"They would feel comfortable coming to school every day and feel confident to raise their hand because now they have deodorant," she said.

Rahim knows the need firsthand.

"I was homeless twice, so my perspective on this is coming from someone who has been through it before," he said.

The poverty rate in Philadelphia is double the national average at nearly one in every four people. The Thomspons' community is no exception to this, so they started this foundation to help their neighbors.

"During the pandemic, they were going into the stores, breaking into the stores to find hygiene products and stuff, so I saw that there was a need out there," said Tanisha.

In 2022, they helped 300 families. In 2023, they want to help 1,000. Their goal is to eradicate hygiene poverty, serving the people the best way they know how.

"There's a lot more good going on out here than there's bad. The bad just gets publicized a lot," said Rahim.