A recent article on The Huffington Post titled “For Homeless Women, Getting Their Period Is One Of The Most Difficult Challenges” has been a topic of much discussion on Facebook. I’ve written about this in the past, but here are the talking points
- Tampons, pads and related supplies cannot be purchased with SNAP (food stamps)
- The average American woman spends $120 a year on these products, $10/month per person.
- Reusable products require access to hot water for hygienic reasons which makes them impractical in some situations
- Incarcerated women are allocated very limited supplies & have to pay exorbitant rates for additional products
- Stigma around menstruation is a significant barrier to women & girls who need support. It is also a barrier for transgender and genderqueer individuals who need supplies.
Multiple folks know this is a topic of interest to me and asked for suggestions on where to donate these items locally. Here are my suggestions:
Cathy’s Closet at The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh – This is a personal care pantry that is accessible to anyone in need. It is located at 210 Grant Street Downtown Pittsburgh. This is an especially good way to support homeless youth and LGBTQ neighbors. www.pghlesbian.com
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank – personal care products are very much in demand at food pantries throughout the region. Donating to the Food Bank makes them accessible to people throughout 11 counties. To find a pantry near your home or business, click here.
Bethlehem Haven – serving homeless women, this is a wonderful organization to support with your product donations. Note that Bethlehem Haven is the only homeless shelter that shelters transgender women in Pittsburgh.
The Center for Victims – serves adult and children survivors of domestic violence. Donations support residents in shelter and transitonal housing programs.
On The Spot – a community organization that collects items for distribution to students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Donations can be dropped off at Planned Parenthood for distribution. NOTE – On The Spot is having a fundraiser event on Thursday, February 12 from 6-8 PM. Admission is $10 or $5 with box of products. Expect a cookie table, cocktail specials and a terrific raffle.
You can also contact community groups in your region. Call the local high school and ask if they have a need. Contact a shelter or housing program. Any group that asks for things like soap, shampoo or new underwear may be able to use these items. It is a good idea to call ahead just to make sure.
I believe every organization that serves women – church groups, book clubs, discussion groups, political groups, business networking groups – should hold a product drive once a year. While not every woman menstruates and not everyone who menstruates identifies as female, it is a good starting point to tap into our collective identities and lend some support to our neighbors.
Oh, one final tip, while panty liners are often on the best sales – donating the heaviest flow items is often the most useful thing to do.