by Autumn Lau
Girls have periods. It is a natural thing that happens to almost every girl when they are around the age of 12. Although periods are common for almost every female, not everyone has access to the products they need.
Grand Rapids woman Richelle Smith is working to provide basic feminine hygiene products, such as pads and tampons, to middle schoolers in need through a Power Pack fundraiser. A Power Pack is an Ipsy bag containing 2 pads, clean underwear, wipes, and a Ziploc bag for their soiled underwear.
“We created this goal of 1,000 Power Packs to be able to give one to every female 5th grader within that district [Grand Rapids Public School District] so that they would be able to put it in their backpack and have that if it occurs at school,” Smith said.
Smith also recognizes how embarrassing it is for a girl to start her period at school only to have to try to cover up “the evidence” just to make it to the office or the school nurse to explain what happened.
In 5th grade all students are separated by gender and attend a reproductive health class; Smith decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to distribute Power Packs to every female in the GRPS District.
Smith said, “We reached out to Grand Rapids Public Schools and asked if there was a natural time frame where the students would get talked about reproductive health and some of those changes,” Smith explained.
Once she started collecting the packs, Smith wasn’t confident it would be successful. I wasn’t sure if a 1,000 was a lot or if we were going to get enough donations to do enough Power Packs,” she expressed.
However, the response was bigger than she ever expected, “People have reached out to me all over the United States, not just in Grand Rapids asking if they could mail a check to help, or if they could mail Ipsy bags. A lot of people have also shared their personal stories.”
Today, Smith has enough supplies for 1,000 Power Packs and is in discussion about what the next steps are. Smith is still accepting donations for future Power Packs. Moving forward, Smith would like to, “Expand it beyond just GRPS. We need to create an actual Facebook page, maybe a website, and we need to have options for people to donate all throughout the year, not just this one set time frame.”