Her Story: College activists raise $25,000 for feminine hygiene products for Women’s History Month

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Donations pour in across New York State in Celebration of the History of Feminism

This March, Women’s History Month, NYPIRG student activists hosted service drives on seventeen college campuses in New York State to spread awareness of the plight facing women living in poverty. The campaign, involving hundreds of college students, raised nearly 25,000 feminine hygiene products and challenged taboos around homelessness. At Queens College, 250 items were collected and donated to the Queens College Psychological Center.

For decades, NYPIRG has worked on combatting hunger and homelessness through educational and service-based actions. The service drives provide students with the opportunity to build community organizing skills and bring aid to people in need.

“I intern at the Queens College Psychological Center, where some of our patients are in need of basic supplies such as food, clothing, and personal care products. After conducting a drive for donations, I was contacted by Daniel at NYPIRG. He believed that our drive was in line with his organization’s cause and very generously offered to contribute to our drive. The wonderful people who work at Herstory collected donations of food, clothing, and personal care products and delivered them to the clinic. That same day, these items were donated to a family in need. We, at the QCPC, are all very grateful for Herstory and the contributions they have made to our patients. Thank you, Herstory!” said Kathryn Dan, a Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student.

Shelters often are desperately in need of feminine hygiene products, specifically tampons and pads. A 2016, Harris Poll found that only 6% of respondents had ever donated period products, but three times as many had donated other toiletries.

The taboo nature of period products contributes to a lack of visibility about the issue and discomfort for women who must self-advocate. That’s why NYPIRG chapters across the state are challenging that taboo.

“As a woman, organizing this is such an important issue because it shows how much of an impact women can have on our communities. It’s extremely inspiring to see, for example, sororities come together and drop off boxes of products. It’s liberating and shows how much we care about these issues, and how much change we can make,” shared SUNY Cortland student and NYPIRG Board of Directors representative, Candice Jaimungal.

“I think it’s important for younger generations to see how impactful women can be when they organize, that way they can be inspired to act too. I learned that, unfortunately, there still is a stigma around menstruation but students are challenging that just by talking about it in an honest way,” said Jaimungal.

Contributions were donated to a wide variety of shelters and food banks across the state including the YWCA in Queens and Binghamton, CHiPS in Brooklyn, and the Ali Forney Center for LGBTQ youth. Several campuses donated to their own on-campus community food pantries.

In addition to hygiene products, many campuses also collected business apparel for job interviews, another crucial need that many shelters are in short supply. Hundreds of cans of food were raised as well.

Students pledged to keep the project alive well past the end of Women’s History Month. Many NYPIRG chapters have worked with college campuses to make the donation drop-off locations permanent fixtures.

“Women’s history should be celebrated 365 days a year, not just one month,” said Tammie David, City College of New York student and NYPIRG’s Board of Directors Vice Chair.

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