VCU Recreational Sports and two student organizations donated thousands of boxes of feminine hygiene products to shelters in Richmond for National Public Health Week.
The Health Occupation Students of America and Lions Club at VCU have distributed roughly 1,600 tampons and pads to several homeless and women’s shelters.
The student organizations began Friday, April 10 when the group donated their first shipment of items to the CARITAS shelter, which is the largest provider of homeless services in the Richmond Metro area.
“CARITAS was very accepting and excited to see us and referred them to other shelters in the area,” said Josh Brown, the treasurer for both the Health Occupation Students of America and Lions Club. “They said that they have a really big demand for tampons and feminine hygiene products.”
Brown works at the Cary Street Gym where VCU RecSports recently received thousands of free sanitary items from Playtex as part of a brand promotion. Brown figured that he could distribute the remaining tampons to a good cause after having a conversation with Colleen Parker, a junior social work major.
Parker said she became aware of the lack of feminine hygiene products for certain groups of women about a year ago when a homeless woman asked her for spare change to purchase tampons. Parker said she had never considered that this may be a potential problem.
“Homelessness is really taboo,” Parker said. “Like people don’t like to talk about it. And of course women’s issue is really taboo too, people like to talk about that even less. Where that intersects is an area that is such a great need.”
Parker also said that feminine hygiene products are not as convenient to donate as old coats or canned foods, and are also more expensive.