Beauty Launchpad Magazine

FEB 2016

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34 | BEAUTY LAUNCHPAD | FEBRUARY 2016 W hen Spa Swag for Warriors Founder and CEO Lacey Chong received a letter from her best friend Becca in 2014, she couldn't have realized its far-reaching impact immediately. Becca, an offi cer in the Marine Corps, was deployed to West Africa during the height of the Ebola crisis. The conditions, unsurprisingly, were deplorable and Becca wrote: "I always feel dirty. I don't feel like a woman anymore." "It really shook me," Chong recalls. "I had assumed that women serving overseas had everything they needed. But when they're on hardship duty, that's not necessarily so." Hardship duty is described by the military as being posted in an area where living conditions are diffi cult, due to climate, crime, health care and so on. "These women are serving in dangerous places," she explains. "Feeling clean and comfortable is something they shouldn't have to worry about." Chong's response was immediate. She held a Thanksgiving potluck and asked friends and family to bring bath and beauty products to donate for Becca and her female colleagues. Spa Swag for Warriors was born. Since that fi rst package went out in 2014, Spa Swag for Warriors has sent out approximately 30 care packages, which go to units of 10 to 20 women who are brought to the foundation's attention by someone in a leadership role, such as a senior enlisted woman or chaplain. "We get letters saying 'Hey, we've heard about you and we'd love to get some of your products.' We do our research with Department of Defense and if the women are eligible for hardship pay, we send them Spa Swag," Chong explains. The foundation has set itself a goal of donating 200 boxes in 2016. Eventually Chong plans to expand to personal hygiene products for male soldiers as well. "In the fi eld of military philanthropy, we're a little different," Chong admits. "But I think women instinctively understand that providing restorative products to deployed female service members can have an immediate effect on their morale and well-being. I want women to know they can be strong, patriotic and beautiful." Spa Swag for Warriors aims to bring the gift of beauty to military women deployed on hardship posts. —BARBARA BAZALDUA Conversations/ Giving Back In Service Spa Swag for Warriors Founder and CEO Lacey Chong SWAG BAGS If you're interested in supporting Spa Swag for Warriors, visit spaswagforwarriors.org. Want to gather up a collection of goodies? "We try to send high- quality items that are known and trusted," Chong says. Among the most-requested products: shampoo and conditioner, eye cream, moisturizers, lip balms, SPF and face wipes. Sorry, no aerosol products allowed. These women are serving in dangerous places. Feeling clean and comfortable is something they shouldn't have to worry about."

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