It was another magazine article that did it. I had just finished reading “Period Power!” by Sara Austin from the December 2016 issue of COSMOPOLITAN and I had that same big feeling I did when I was inspired by SEVENTEEN’s article about Beauty Peace Day that led me to create and found BUILD Beauty at Emporia State University. It was one of those, I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING bursts of inspiration that told me, “RACHEL, DON’T YOU DARE put this project down. So I listened and now I am here typing this to you.
So what was the big deal about this article? Why was I so moved? Enlightened is the word that kept popping up in my brain after reading the article. It told three different stories of three different women that had the same idea: feminine products are essential, but access to them can be difficult.
Rebekah Rennick was a college student that started her period during class and didn’t have any products with her, nor change to buy any from the vending machine. That’s when she thought maybe this basic necessity should be offered for free on her college campus.
Holly Sanchez worked at a transition housing complex for homeless women and children whom a lot of them were escaping abusive relationships. She noticed there were only two boxes of tampons in the donation closet.
“When we think of people experiencing homelessness, we think of things like food or clothing. But I realized periods don’t go away because someone doesn’t have a home.” – Holly Sanchez
She learned some homeless women were using and reusing rags without a way to sanitize them. Some steal toilet paper from public bathrooms.
“Others are forced to choose between free bleeding and using what little money they have to purchase food or buying pads or tampons.” – Holly Sanchez
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf saw a flyer seeking donations for tampons and pads for a community food pantry and she wondered why everyone didn’t know about this need. She researched and found in 40 states feminine products are being taxed (that includes Kansas! I checked my receipt!).
“It’s so patently unfair and it affects half the population.” – Jennifer Weiss-Wolf
Rebekah emailed her school’s president explaining that no woman should have to miss class because she’s bleeding and the school should provide feminine products like they provide TP and condoms.
Eventually the school approved to have free products and other campuses across the nation have also gotten on board.
The article also explained the need for products in jails.
“They may be able to purchase products through the commissary, but a lot of these women are completely financially marginalized. Because jails are designed for men, they don’t take into account the many ways the experience can be different for women.” – Liz Swavola
It didn’t take me long to figure out exactly whom I wanted to impact. It was more about how I was going to do this. I knew I wanted to help my high school alma mater, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, KS. First step: reach out to a current senior student I know, Marley Lowe, that could describe the current situation.
We no longer offer the vending machines in the girl’s bathrooms. However, the nurse can provide students with pads, but they are the huge uncomfortable ones. My friends and I mainly rely on me, as I regularly carry a pack full of pads, liners, and tampons. – Marley Lowe
Sumner Academy is one of those magical places. Students have to take a test in order to be accepted and they start attending in the 8th grade. Essentially, it’s like five years of high school. Students have to maintain a certain GPA to stay in and are required to take honor classes and endure harder curriculum than your average public school. It’s a college prep school and while I attended, it was consistently ranked in the top 100 schools in the nation and the #1 in Kansas.
But it’s hard; for many reasons.
As of 2016, 83% of the student population is minority. Located in one of the poorest counties in Kansas, 73% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged and receiving free or reduced lunch. They start their days by going through metal detectors and sending their belongings through an x-ray type machine resembling something you might see in an airport just to even enter the building each morning.
Now let’s all think back to our teenage years. Maybe it wasn’t that long ago or it has been decades. But you can probably think of some hard times you faced as a teenager. Puberty and growth spurts taking effect. Peer pressure. Trying things for the first time. Learning to drive. Trying to make good grades. Hormones. Being misunderstood. Being picked on.
Now take all of that and factor in the even harder classes these students are taking. The pressures of making good grades so they can go to college and maybe have a shot at a better life. The daily tension they face just because the color of their skin. Seeing their parents struggle to make ends meet. Given the dark political climate we are living in, you can imagine these students are facing very harsh realities. They have a lot more to worry about than making the team or picking out a prom dress.
My goal, my hope, my vision, my dream is to give back in any way I can. And the first thing I want to do is to help take the worry and embarrassment out of this issue as a woman for the girls of Sumner Academy.
So this is The Period Project.
I would like to collect feminine products throughout the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month so by the end of the month, I can give all donated period products to Sumner Academy so all female teachers can have a supply available for any girl that needs them.
How can you help?
What: Donate feminine products (pads and/or tampons)
Where: Cross Points Church
6824 Lackman Rd, Shawnee, KS 66217
When: Through the month of March
Times: The church office is open 9am-4pm
Doors are open every night until 9pm (except Monday)
During Sunday services 9am & 11am
*There will be a designated bin to drop off products at your convenience.*
If you are unable to drop off a donation at the church, please contact me to make arrangements.
To stay connected during March join the Facebook event: The Period Project Facebook Event
Please join the conversation and post about your donation using the hashtag #PeriodProjectKC
If you would like to be a Period Project Ambassador by sharing this cause with others, please contact me and I can give you access to the marketing materials to help spread the word.
So, how about a goal of 5,000 products? 🙂 Let’s do this!
“On campuses and in offices, women’s shelters, and jails, activists are calling attention to how critical it is to have access to period products. It’s not just about women’s finances – it affects the freedom to work, study, and move about the world with basic dignity.” – Sara Austin
Thank you, Sara Austin for this article. ❤
With extra sprinkles on top,