Formerly Homeless Boy Is Giving People On The Streets A Fresh Start With His Soap Business

07/17/2014 04:56 pm ET | Updated Jul 17, 2014
  • Robbie Couch Associate Editor of Impact, The Huffington Post

Donovan Smith is an expert at crafting donuts, pies, popsicles and cupcakes. But be warned: His seemingly mouth-watering creations should stay clear of any hungry mouths -- they're made out of soap.

Donovan, 11, is the youngest vendor at Rail Yards Market in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he sells many of his delicious-looking (but definitely inedible) soap products, KRQE News 13 reported. Mixing aloe vera and goat’s milk to concoct his colorful creations, Donovan's business, Toil and Trouble, has become a local hit.

And as if cupcake-shaped soap isn't a good enough reason to patron Toil and Trouble, 20 percent of sales from Donovan's pie-shaped products are donated to the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico -- the organization that helped Donovan and his mother get back on their feet when they struggled with homelessness three years ago.

"They're fun," Casey, Donovan's mother, told KRQE News 13 of her son's creations. "And the fact that they actually have the potential to help someone else makes it even better."

Casey, a former Navy cryptologist living with PTSD and a leg injury from her service in the military, said she couldn't find a job during the recession. She told the news source that fast-food restaurants wouldn't hire her, claiming she was over-qualified.

While the Obama administration has prioritized veteran homelessness -- the rate of homelessness among vets has dropped 24 percent since 2010 -- returning men and women in uniform are still disproportionately affected by the issue. Beyond the complex set of factors that contribute to all homelessness, high numbers of veterans live with lingering effects of PTSD, like Casey, and struggle with substance abuse issues as well, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans points out.

But things are looking up for Casey and Donovan, thanks in large part to local groups like the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico, the veteran mother told KRQE News 13. Now with a stable job and an apartment to call her own -- as well as a hobby helping her son create banana cream pie soap -- the sky's the limit for Casey and her creative son.

To follow updates and learn more about Toil and Trouble, visit the business' Facebook page.

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