With over 30 affiliations globally, the organization Support the Girls collects gently-used bras, new underwear and feminine hygiene products and donates them to local homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, churches and schools.
Applied communication studies department chair Alicia Alexander has recently brought an affiliation of Support the Girls to Edwardsville. Alexander launched the official Support the Girls Edwardsville affiliate in May 2016 after learning about a friend from graduate school who was collecting bras through Support the Girls in Washington, D.C.
Alexander said she started the national affiliate in Edwardsville because she believes this is a giving community and also because she wanted to create a direct connection with the organization and the university. Alexander said she hopes to get students involved and said she eventually wants to see a student organization affiliate of Support the Girls on campus.
Alexander had her first collection event in May 2016, a “Bra-B-Q,” where she invited friends and family to her home for food and asked them to bring feminine hygiene products and gently-used bras to donate.
“It was a nice way to get into the project,” Alexander said. “People got excited about helping me collect the bras and encouraged me to launch an Edwardsville affiliate of Support the Girls.”
According to Alexander, Support the Girls Edwardsville is the only bra-collecting non-profit organization in the Metro East area, and word is traveling fast about its existence.
“I have people contacting me from all over the St. Louis area asking me for donations,” Alexander said. “We’re not limited to only helping Madison county — I’ve helped St. Louis and as far as Wentzville so far, and I’m excited to be able to continue to do more.”
Alexander currently sorts bras and other donated items in her home and packages them up before taking the donations to women’s shelters and homeless shelters in the Metro East area.
“[The women who receive donations] deserve to have pretty and clean bras just like everyone else. I want them to feel like they’re getting something special,” Alexander said.
According to Alexander, students were excited to hear about the organization and have been getting involved through volunteering in different ways.
“The best way for students to get involved is through organizing their own donation drives,” Alexander said. “I would love to have any organization or student group on campus involved with helping Support the Girls.”
Support the Girls Edwardsville is having a donation event Saturday, April 8, in collaboration with students from the applied communication studies department. The event is a 21-and-older girls night out at The Studio, located in downtown Glen Carbon.
Student volunteers table and compete for prizes based on the number of bras and donations they receive. Volunteers are needed prior to the event for set-up as well as after the event for sorting, washing and packaging, according to Alexander.
Alexander said in addition to this event, she is always in need of extra help sorting donations and washing donations that are not already clean. There are many ways to get involved, and while donating is a huge part of what makes the organization successful, any help is appreciated.
Since launching in 2016, Support the Girls Edwardsville has distributed over 400 bras, 5,769 feminine hygiene products, 475 pairs of new underwear, over 200 pairs of new socks and other products on an as-need ed basis to homeless shelters and women’s shelters in the Metro East area.
Kimmel Student Involvement Center Office Support Associate Vivian Rodgers said she is happy to see the Edwardsville community come together and provide these types of services to local women.
“Hygiene products are essential to young women and sometimes can be expensive when a woman has to think about feeding her family versus buying something for herself,” Rodgers said. “Organizations like this help those women to not have to think about prioritizing things like that and allows them to have the things that they need.”
Recently, the Edwardsville Children’s Museum has offered to be a donation site for the organization. The museum will accept donations from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Museum pperations director Lindley White said helping the community is central to the museum’s mission and any local organization that also models themselves off that belief can look to the museum for support.
“We at the Edwardsville Children’s Museum are community centered,” White said. “Anytime we have the opportunity to get involved with an organization like Support The Girls, we are excited to do that.”
For more information, visit the Support the Girls - Edwardsville Facebook page or contact Alicia Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.