CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Lowcountry Chapter of the Homeless Period Project provides free menstrual products to schools, shelters and anyone else in need.
President of the Lowcountry chapter, Melissa Soule, says donations have slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"That's something that nobody thinks to give," Soule said.
The organization is in need of 2,000 packs of menstrual products by the end of August. Each pack contains 20 products which can include tampons, pads, liners and wipes that are individually wrapped.
“I was in foster care growing up, and so I was in and out of shelters,” Soule said. “I had a really vivid memory of somebody dropping off a box of tampons and just everyone just rushing out because it was a women’s shelter and everyone was just rushing the door. I hadn’t yet started my period.”
Soule says people will miss school and work if they don't have the products they need.
"I always have to keep it in my school, in my classroom so that my girls didn't have to leave the class didn't have to lose instruction," Soule said.
According to the organization, over 400, 000 people who menstruate live in poverty in South Carolina. They say that's 5 million packs needed every year in the state.
Normally, the organization would host packing parties where groups of people get together and bring donations and sort the products into packs for distribution.
However, with the pandemic the organization is asking volunteers to organize donation drives within their businesses or neighborhoods and then pack the products at their own homes safely.
"Well, because nobody can get together and we can't have social events products aren't coming in," Soule said.
The organization delivers the products to shelters and students at Lowcountry school districts including Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester District Two and Four, Colleton and Beaufort counties.
“We don’t want there to be any stigma involved,” Soule said. “This is for everybody and we include teachers, custodians, food workers and anyone at school.”
Soule said they have been able to deliver the products throughout the pandemic to students at home in the Berkeley County School District. However, they are working with the other school districts to assist in the same way. The other districts have a different way of operating she says.
The organization says while menstrual hygiene is a necessity, these products are not covered by any government program such as WIC, SNAP or Medicaid. They say 40 states do not recognize them as “necessary items” and are taxed higher including in South Carolina.
If you’d like to donate or organize a drive you can visit The Homeless Period Project Lowcountry Facebook page to connect with the organization’s leaders. You can send a request to be added to the Facebook group.
You can also email email@example.com for more information or to get involved.
There are also other Homeless Period Project chapters in Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Greenville.