Non-profit out of Panama City is expanding to Holmes County

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BONIFAY, FL (WTVY) - Boosting students confidence and providing every-day items that we often take for granted..
An organization out of Panama City is looking to fill that gap.

Allison Smith, Founder of Simply Self-Esteem says:
"Many of us go through day to day life and we have blinders or just have no idea how big the need is for basic necessities."

Simply self-esteem is a non-profit that started in Panama City.
"This is our sixth year to do this and it's been amazing how it's grown."
Allison Smith wants to make sure every teen is taken care of.
"Who knows who we may have lost that were bullied at school for whatever reason.."

The idea all started at a meeting...
"It's about this time of year that I was in a networking organization and one of our members was with a local agency who stepped forward one morning and she said I really need your help."
There were 13 teenagers whose Christmas wish list had not been picked up.
Allison and her friend decided to split a list…
"I didn't open it, I didn't look at it until that evening. I went to Walmart and I’ll never forget I opened that list and the very first thing said pretti clothes."
"But her second thing was my own toothbrush and her third thing was deodorant."
Allison said she was mad and crying all at the same time.
"But my thought first off.. Why is she asking for a toothbrush? And two…my own toothbrush? Is she having to share?"

Her organization has now expanded to several counties across the panhandle.
Holmes County is now a part.
"This area especially, we have tons of teenagers and children being raised by grandparents, by great-grand parents, by aunts and uncles."
Christopher lauen who helps teens with tobacco prevention knows the need all too well.
Lauen says:
"May have more poor health outcomes, emotional health outcomes, mental health outcomes and so this will help support those students in a way that maybe we at other agencies and organizations can't support."

Items in these self-esteem bags are given away anonymously. Allison never meets the teens. This year she is hoping to fill 600 bags.

For Bonifay, there is an immediate need to fill 80 backpacks.
They need any hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant.
You can drop off these items in Bonifay at Community South Bank, Cold Steel Firearms, Holmes County Health Department, or Doctors Memorial Hospital.
Allison hopes to have a drop off location in Dothan by next spring.

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