About Us

The Who, What, Where and Why

Simply Self-Esteem was founded in 2012 by Allison Smith of Panama City Beach, Florida. Smith and another BNI member decided to adopt a 13-year-old girl and work together to fill her wishes. Smith took the list and put inside her purse. She did not look at it until she got to the store that evening to shop. Forever etched in her memory are the words on that Christmas list: “Pretti clothes, my own toothbrush, deodorant, a necklace..."

“My own toothbrush?” This reality would be hard to imagine even in the abstract, but imagine reading these words while holding this child’s Christmas wish list. As this feeling settled upon Allison, she immediately made a phone call and asked, ‘why doesn’t she have her own toothbrush?’” recalls Smith, who by this time had tears streaming down her face in the middle of the shopping aisle. She called someone who knew the girl and learned that a home inspection revealed seven people were sharing one toothbrush. And that it wasn’t uncommon for children to ask for essentials like toothbrushes and shampoo on their wish lists.

That first year, 2012, Allison created and distributed 42 self-esteem bags. The second year, she recruited more people and enough items were collected to create 95 self-esteem bags. For year three, she surpassed 200 bags. This was thanks to many dedicated volunteers, like Shannon Richmond, who created donation boxes to place at local businesses for collecting donations of personal hygiene items. With 30 drop off locations for 2015, collections yielded nearly 400 self-esteem bags, and grew to more than 500 in 2016. It was exciting to reach this number, but there remains a need for more. Allison is on a quest to satisfy this critical need in our community. She dreams of growing this community project to other cities in Florida, then to others in the Southeast United States and beyond. To this end, Allison formed a non-profit organization in 2016 called Simply Self Esteem, and with the help of a community partner this website was created in 2017 and the journey to grow has begun.

Smith is extremely thankful, completely humbled and totally excited about the community support and hopes to keep up the good work in 2017.

Everyone’s help is needed to, so please get involved today. As Smith likes to say, "Participating is something anyone can do." Hygiene items are basic needs on every shopping list. “There’s nothing complicated about it. Toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. are small and easy to purchase since we’re always shopping in the hygiene aisles." Each self-esteem bag contains 12+ items and you can donate what you want or offer a small monetary donation and our volunteers will shop for you.