GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Feminine hygiene products are essential items. They are expensive and can be difficult to obtain when experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence or struggling to make ends meet. Or, during a global pandemic.
When the national quarantine started people began hoarding toilet paper, and women started accumulating pads and tampons. Out of fear of not knowing how long they’ll be stuck in the house, and because periods don’t stop for quarantines.
I Support the Girls Grand Rapids, MI is non-profit organization that supports every woman that needs help. They opened in March 2019, and since January they have worked with 24 organizations across West Michigan and donated nearly 83,000 products. 13 ON YOUR SIDE spoke to affiliate director Emily Beggs about helping the women not only during the time of pandemic, but always connecting organizations to donations.
"Right now more families need the food provided by the food pantries, and by the same stretch there are more and more families with women who need menstrual products," says Beggs. “It helps restore that dignity, it helps women be healthy, and taking care of themselves. If we’re able to help shouldn’t we be doing that?"
Emily encourages individuals that would like to donate to the organization or other organizations that would like to connect, to contact her through the ISTG Facebook page. People can also donate to the cause through their Amazon Wishlist. Donations go to local food pantries, which you can find by calling United Way of West Michigan at 2-1-1.
“All of the pantries in Kent County take donations of any type of hygiene product. The food pantries have a hard time keeping them in stock, and the feminine hygiene products are so costly, so not everybody donates them,” says 2-1-1 director, Sherri Vainavicz. "The need is always there for feminine hygiene products. During regular times when there are collection drives for hygiene and feminine hygiene type products its still not enough. The food pantries have a hard time keeping them in stock."
I Support the Girls in a national organization and partners with big box store brands The Diva Cup and online retailer Lola. The organization encourages sharing information about the need for feminine hygiene products not just here in West Michigan but all around the world, because periods don't stop for pandemics.
“I just hope that keep reaching out, people getting together, if they have the ability to help then I’d like to see them continue doing so," says Beggs. "We have a population here that can use some help."
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