HOPE VALLEY — Wood River Health Services is participating in a statewide campaign to collect sanitary products for women and girls who cannot afford to buy them.
The campaign, dubbed #HelpASisterOutPeriod, is organized by the Rhode Island Coalition of Labor Union Women, with the support of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, Teamsters Local 251, and the Rhode Island AFL-CIO.
Campaign organizer Maureen Martin, secretary-treasurer of the state AFL/CIO, said the goal is to raise public awareness of the difficulties women face when they don’t have the financial means to purchase menstrual products.
"Girls and women missing out on school and work because of a lack of access or affordability of menstrual period products is unacceptable in this day and age," she said. "If a family is struggling to put food on the table, buying menstrual period products is a huge burden. This campaign is just a baby step towards addressing this issue. No one should have to live in period poverty.”
A donation box has been set up in the Wood River waiting room, where people can drop off women’s hygiene products. Employees of the health center are also collecting donations on their own.
David Henley, Wood River development coordinator, said the campaign would run until the end of May.
“The donation day is planned for May 28, and that symbolizes the five days that women menstruate,” he said.
The campaign, Henley noted, is the first of its kind in Rhode Island, and it is hoped that it will help de-stigmatize menstruation.
“Part of the campaign, too, is to kind of take some of the stigma away from talking about this stuff,” he said. “Why should it be so uncomfortable? It’s uncomfortable for me to be talking to you about it right now. It was very uncomfortable for me to bring this up at the committee meeting, where I proposed that we do this here. I’m one of about five guys who work with 60 women, so I’m catching a little good-natured ribbing around here about this whole thing.”
Donations can be dropped off at Wood River Health Services, at AFL-CIO headquarters, 194 Smith St., Providence, or ordered online and shipped to the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, 356 Smith St., Providence, 02908.