A Vermont business is helping people around the state protect themselves against COVID-19 by providing soap to food shelves.
"We're doing something to help," said Michele Asch of Twincraft Skincare, which makes solid and liquid soaps for premium personal care brands all across North America.
Those brands, in turn, sell the products internationally, Asch noted.
Since we're all washing our hands so often to cut the risk of disease, Twincraft is considered an essential manufacturer — it is contributing to stocking the nation's shelves with hygiene products.
"We've been talking about it as a company, we've been talking about it in the lunchroom. There's a sense of, 'What we're doing is very important,'" Asch told NECN and NBC10 Boston. "It's not just soap — it's a key component to keeping people safe."
Asch wants to see her own neighbors have full access to soap, too, saying Twincraft has been donating thousands of bars of soap to food shelves in Vermont since the new coronavirus first reached the state.
The bars of soap are going to charities of all sizes, Asch said.
At the Duxbury Elf Food Shelf, director Ruth Haskins received a donation and said she knows recipients deeply appreciate the soap.
"Things that are small to other people — they're enormous to us," Haskins said. "A bar of soap is incredible."
In Burlington, Feeding Chittenden said a sudden spike in unemployment is causing a surge in demand for emergency groceries.
Anna McMahon of Feeding Chittenden called the soap a needed component in those boxes.
"The fact we can distribute it is really critical," McMahon said of the soap from Twincraft.
Wednesday, the Vermont Department of Health announced the state's eighth death from COVID-19. Six of the deaths have been linked to the same Burlington nursing home, Burlington Health and Rehab.
Also Wednesday, the health department's tally of known COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 123, with officials saying even more jumps in cases are expected.
Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, issued a "stay home, stay safe," order, under which all businesses and nonprofits had to suspend in-person operations by 5 p.m. Wednesday to slow the spread of disease.
"For those who may think this goes too far, this virus is spreading quickly," Gov. Scott warned at a Wednesday press briefing. "It may not have affected you yet, but all too soon, many of us will know someone personally, then it will start to feel very real."
The governor's order does have exemptions, including grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. But even in those spots, Scott said he wants people to keep their distance from one another, and for everyone to practice excellent personal hygiene — namely, hand washing.
Other businesses, such as restaurants, may still operate if they use curbside pickup or delivery, the Scott administration noted.
The "stay at home, stay safe" order also allows manufacturing deemed necessary for public health, which Twincraft said it fits into — so it will continue operating.
Asch knew she could help others with handwashing — and she hopes everyone, everywhere is thinking of their own ways to strengthen local communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
"There is a sense of pride," Asch said of knowing the products Twincraft makes are needed right now.
Asch said the support will continue, so encouraged community organizations in Vermont that are looking for soap to reach out to get the products they need for the people they serve.