When it’s that time of month for women, the last thing you want is to draw attention to yourself.
“For just a small amount of effort and money, we can take this pressure and barrier away for kids,” said Karen Christianson, a mother of five.
Christianson began raising money three years ago to provide feminine hygiene products at West High School after she learned that school staff members were purchasing the items themselves. She also discovered that students were missing school because they couldn’t afford the supplies they needed.
“Many of them will steal them. One story was they will cut it in half and because its layers, they will make six maxi pads,” she said.
Christianson is breaking down the barriers for students by building a supply of products to last throughout the year. She is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County to raise enough donations to equip every middle and high school with free supplies.
“When you are struggling for food and a warm place to stay, menstrual supplies (are) the last place you are going to spend money,” she said.
Products will be given to teachers and the school nurse and will be located in bathrooms for easy access for students. Home Town Pharmacy in Fitchburg will provide 25 percent discount on supplies that are donated.
“I think it’s important to bring things to life and have communication on it. I hope that what this does is start a conversation in the middle school and high school to talk about these things so it’s not a taboo subject,” owner Thad Schumacher said.
Despite the positive response to the donation driver, Christianson says their efforts do not fix the root of the problem.
“This is a gender equity issue too. Again toilet paper, you wouldn’t think twice in providing that at schools. So it has to get to that level,” she said.
Two bills are aimed at addressing the issue. Rep. Melissa Sargent says she’d like to get rid of taxes imposed on tampons and pads. She is also hoping to make those products free in bathrooms in all state buildings. Sargent is also responsible for help implementing a pilot program at East High School last year that provided machines and free menstrual supplies for students. Her goal is to expand that product to other schools in the future.
Products can be dropped off at The Boys & Girls Club office at 1818 West Beltline Highway or the Fitchburg Hometown pharmacy until Aug. 26, or you can donate online.