This is not a moment. It’s the movement.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
Let me tell you a story:
one day, I was early for my news writing class. I had just come out of the restroom when a girl stopped me and said, very quietly and sounding embarrassed, “do you have a tampon?” I do what (I hope) we all do, reached into my backpack, pulled one out and handed it to her. I though that would be the extent of that exchange.
As I sat in the hallway floor waiting for class to start, the same girl came out of the bathroom with tears in her eyes. I immediately though she must have some serious cramping going on but that was not the issue at all. She came back up to me and looked me in the eye. “Thank you.” I smiled and told her it was no problem. “No, really thank you. I haven’t been able to afford to buy a box of tampons in over a year.”
I stood up, told her to follow me and we walked to my car. That morning, I had run into the drug store and bought a new box because I was running low. I handed it to the girl and told her to take them. She cried again. We hugged. I’ve never seen that girl again since that day. I didn’t get her name, I don’t know where she is, but she sparked something inside me.
That’s why I’m here today writing this. The menstruation crisis in this country is out of control.
In the United States, the cost of tampons, pads, menstrual cups, etc. are not covered by food stamps. Women living on the streets have been known to trade in food stamps for tampons and/or pads. They literally are forced to choose between a meal and health. The average cost for a box of tampons in the US is $7.00. That may not seem like much, but when you add up other costs (medication, birth control, pads…) the number rises quickly.
Just yesterday (March 6, 2017) I put together three kits for the restrooms in Wilson Hall on my college campus. (This is the building I am in all day, so it seemed like a logical place to start.) I was driving home from work and thought to myself: what kind of feminist am I if I’m not doing everything I can to help? This is one way I can help, and already the project is growing.
Within the past 12 hours, I’ve had so much support it’s overwhelming. I can feel this turning into something big, something bigger than I ever saw coming. (And possibly stressful but if it makes a difference in just one person’s life, I will have accomplished my goal.)
- Already, I have a friend preparing to collect donations and ship from Europe.
- Four bathrooms on my college campus now have these kits, one being a safe zone for LGBTQ students.
- I have had three messages on Twitter from people telling me they were inspired and are going to follow suit at their schools.
This is something I am very passionate about and I am committed to seeing this project through. Along with placing kits in bathrooms around my town, I will collect a monthly donation to take to various shelters, including those in Nashville, TN where the homeless population is rising. With your help, this project can really make a difference!
So, to the girl who asked me for a tampon… this is for you!
*UPDATE: On April 8th and 9th, I will be driving to Nashville to pass out reusable bags full of the products that have been donated as well as some snacks and water. This is happening because of you all! ❤️❤️