People experiencing homelessness often have to resort to using such things as wadded up toilet paper, hand-drying paper towels found in public restrooms, or even one of their own T-Shirts when they are menstruating.
Hygiene products like pads and tampons are rarely donated and are usually not required to be in a homeless shelter’s budget. That’s why the Los Angeles LGBT Center has launched Merry Menstruation Month program which runs through the end of December.
“This is a call to anybody who understands what it’s like to have a period,” says Frankie Darling-Palacios, outreach and enrollment coordinator for the Center’s Audre Lorde Health Program for lesbian and bi women. “For people on the streets, it can be deciding to get food or maxi pads. These things get taxed and they are expensive.”
Unopened boxes of tampons, maxi pads and other items such as wipes, soaps and underwear are being collected through December 31 inside a large bin on the first floor of the Center’s McDonald/Wright Building at 1625 N. Schrader Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90028.
The items will be assembled into kits filled with enough maxi pads, tampons and wipes for a monthly menstrual cycle.
The Merry Menstruation Month effort is inspired by the #HappyPeriod campaign which believes no one should go without menstrual care. The campaign aims to end any stigma or break any taboos surrounding menstruation.
“We wanted to find a way to address what our community faces so we collaborated with #HappyPeriod,” Darling-Palacios says. “The response has been overwhelming. Everyone can relate to this in some way whether it’s women who know what it’s like to have a period or other folks who are unashamed to pick up a box of maxi pads in December for our cause.”
#HappyPeriod was co-founded in 2015 by Chelsea VonChaz after she saw a homeless woman wearing blood stained undergarments crossing a street. She teamed up with her mother, Cherryl Warner, to pass out menstrual kits in the Skidrow area of Los Angeles.
The idea has blossomed into a non-profit organization with chapters in New York City, Chicago, San Diego, Atlanta and other U.S. cities.