Support The Girls hosted “Pumpkins and Period Packing Party” as part of their mission to eliminate period poverty, a term that refers to the added financial burden of needing period hygiene products.
Samantha Reynolds, a junior nursing major from St. Louis and president of Support The Girls, said they organized community-donated feminine products that will be distributed to those in need. According to their faculty supervisor, Alicia Alexander, the organization donates to places such as food pantries, homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters.
“We were going to do Spooktacular this Wednesday but it actually got canceled, so we’re just going to use the bags … for any needs, so people will contact [the organization] from schools and other organizations,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said the products will be donated on an as-needed basis, and Alexander finds places that need them through social media.
Trinity Lowe, a junior psychology major from Collinsville, Illinois, and treasurer for Support The Girls, said groups also contact Alexander to tell her what specific types of products they need.
“We’re affiliated with a larger group from D.C. That’s where it started, and so Alicia runs the chapter in Edwardsville. And our new chapter is kind of like the main one for us, so they have connections,” Lowe said. “We have connections all around the world.”
Meghan McKinzie, a senior mass communications major from Belleville, Illinois, said she attended the party because she believes all women should be able to take care of themselves and their bodies without feeling ashamed.
“I felt really good knowing that I was helping other women, regardless of race or anything else. We’re all women at the end of the day and we all experience different menstrual cycles along with similar bodies, [similar] issues as well,” McKinzie said. “So I felt really good about it, just knowing that I was helping another woman out.”
Reynolds said it’s necessary to have drives specifically for period products because the need is there.
“Menstrual products or feminine products are expensive, and they’re needed for women or whoever uses the products to not affect their activities of daily living. So we don’t want their period to be the reason why they’re missing school or work,” Reynolds said.
Lowe said donations are still necessary despite HB 641, a bill that was recently signed which requires universities to have period products available in all restrooms.
“It’s actually provided by The Mensi Project, which is actually based on donations in general. So even though campuses are supposed to provide these products, these are not state funded,” Lowe said. “They’re still being community donations in general.”
Reynolds said they chose to have a packing party rather than a standard drive to gather and motivate as many people as they can, and so that they can use a cute name. She said they packed tampons, pads and menstrual cups.
“We also distribute underwear and bras at events. And we also have a few makeup brands like mascara, and then we have little glitter hand sanitizers that we give to the younger kids who don’t really need pads yet,” Reynolds said.
Lowe said in addition to packing period products, volunteers wrote encouraging notes to include in the bags.
Reynolds said she was really happy with the party’s turnout, because she’s been figuring out how to advertise events throughout the pandemic. Lowe said they are still transitioning back to being in-person.
“I think it’s across all clubs that they’re trying to revive themselves, being on campus. I understand, like people that were maybe more active in the past, maybe they’re not even on campus this semester, or they can’t go to [events], so there’s a lot of things to consider,” Lowe said.
Reynolds said they are in the process of organizing a tabling event so they can distribute little bags she worked on at the party. Lowe said they are also talking about offering safe-sex kits in the future.
“[They have] tampons, pads [and] a little info paper, more about our group and donations and chocolate, so that’s fun,” Reynolds said.