“People in our community are having to make tough choices right now,” says Ryann Mescher. “Feeding your family and keeping a roof over your head and staying healthy will be top priority. Menstrual hygiene products typically don’t make the list of priority items.”
Yet those items are much-needed monthly by many women. A relatively new local organization called Femme Aid Collaborative is designed to help. You may have heard about the group if you attended the recent TEDxYouth@Dayton event.
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It was the summer of 2018 when Ryann and her mother, April, were at an Aldi grocery store in Kettering and noticed a women separating her groceries from her menstrual hygiene products and asking the cashier how much she had spent.
It was obvious to April the woman was in the midst of deciding what food items she would have to sacrifice in order to have enough money for her period products. April stepped in and paid the difference of the entire cart. “It’s what neighbors do,” April told the woman when she expressed her gratitude.
After the incident April cried in her car, resolving that no one should ever have to choose between eating and having the necessary supplies for their monthly cycle. The experience had a lasting effect on Ryann, who shared the story with friends Zoe Waller and Dana Clark. Together, the girls agreed: No woman should have to choose.
The three did some research on period poverty, called a few local nonprofits, identified the need in their community and started planning for their first drive in March 2019. In a little over a year since they started, these high school juniors have collected and distributed 580,000 period pieces to local non-profits.
“Period poverty is a monthly struggle for people in our community and Femme Aid Collaborative is fighting the problem head-on to make a difference in our community,” April says. “We are providing seamlessly through this social-distancing time and helping our local nonprofit agencies with the supply of menstrual hygiene products they need.”
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The organization orders products electronically from a supplier that ships them directly to the local nonprofits’ door. “This system enables product to be activated quickly,” she says, “so nothing is sitting around waiting to be picked up or delivered and is quickly in the hands of people who need it.”
Where products are delivered
The products collected are given to 18 charities in Dayton and Montgomery County each month, including the Foodbank. Femme Aid is 100 percent charitable. “We provided over 125,000 pieces of product to the Foodbank on March 4, in partnership with Allied for Period Supplies and they are already out, ” Mescher says. “And another 65,000 to St. Vincent de Paul in partnership with Hospeco,” a hospital specialty company, on March 30.
“While safety nets like SNAP and food pantries exist to fill an unmet food need, there is little available to women and girls who need feminine hygiene items,” says Lee Truesdale, Chief Development Officer at the Dayton Foodbank. “The products we’ve received from Femme Aid Collaborative have been distributed through Preble County school food pantries, and through our on-site Dayton drive-thru. No matter the distribution method, the products we receive monthly are quickly picked up by our agencies and by clients alike.”
Erin Carey, Assistant Director of Mission Advancement for St. Vincent de Paul Society, says Femme Aid Collaborative is a gift to the Dayton St. Vincent de Paul community. “We sheltered over 1,000 women in 2019, and Femme Aid helped ensure that each guest had access to appropriate feminine hygiene products,” Carey says. ” We are blessed to have a partner that provides such an important necessity for those we serve.”
What they need is simple: Unopened pads and tampons, all varieties
Safe social-distancing drop-off of menstrual hygiene products can be made at UBS Financial Services Inc. 3601 Rigby Road, Suite 500 Miamisburg, OH 45342. It’s near Kroger.
Because of current restrictions, a number of Miami Valley businesses that typically accept these donations are closed.
April says if supporters or organizations would like to host their own drive they can collect products independently and email email@example.com to schedule a social distancing pick up for 10 or more boxes of products.
Monetary donations and can be made at FemmeAid.com or through the Femme Aid Collaborative account at the Dayton Foundation. Donate at www.daytonfoundation.org or make checks payable to The Dayton Foundation, 1401 S Main St, Suite 100, Dayton, OH 45409. Please note clearly on your check FEMME AID FUND #8298.
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Meredith Moss writes about non-profit organizations in our community and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith: MMoss@coxohio.com
Please leave a daytime phone number and submit a photo that reflects your group’s mission.