Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass community compiles period products for those in need

PERIOD and Small Acts for Sustainability host event to ease period poverty
McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian.

On Wednesday, April 5, PERIOD@UMass and Small Acts for Sustainability coordinated a volunteer event in the Student Union, where University of Massachusetts students packaged period products for menstruators in need.

PERIOD@UMass club members and student volunteers gathered to make bags that were filled with pads, tampons and other necessities. Each bag contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, four pads, four tampons, a washcloth and soap, according to Leah Wentzel, a freshman psychology student, who attended the event and helped put the bags together.

The bags were filled with products and donations that the club acquired from a fundraiser during the fall semester. With $683, they purchased 500 pads, more than 300 tampons and 500 panty liners, according to Period@UMass Co-President Karishma Mistry, a senior double major in public health and economics.

“The bags are also going to 200 girls who go to Brook Charter School in Mattapan,” Mistry said. She explained that the panty liners were not included in the bags because they would be going to the Amherst Survival Center later in April, along with other various items.

Bridget Flaherty, a sophomore sociology and English double major, said she chose to participate because she felt strongly about giving back to the local community. “A lot of menstruating individuals just don’t have any access to [these products] and it can really be something that we overlook and take for granted,” Flaherty said.

Small Acts for Sustainability, which co-hosted the event, is an organization founded by Fiona Almeida, a first-year doctoral student in the School of Public Health. The organization focuses on education, period poverty and mental health.

“The most important event that we have at least twice a year is a period kit drive. That’s where we approach individual schools as well as organizations … [and] we provide access to free period products … through drives, with students and community members,” she said.

When asked why she decided to include the community in this packing event, Almeida said that many community members want to give back, but don’t know how. “[A] deeply and more impactful way [to give back] is when you are packing a period kit [and] it gives you a moment to reflect and really understand the inequity,” she said.

Almeida noted that these events create a comfortable environment where people can share their experiences with menstruation and their reproductive health stories, such as battling with endometriosis.

This was the first event that Small Acts for Sustainability had at UMass, and Almeida is hoping for many more as they try to bring awareness to the issue of period poverty. Mistry hopes that with new student leadership, PERIOD@UMass can host more events and expand their relationship with state Rep. Mindy Domb, who represents the town of Amherst. Domb introduced a bill to the state legislature for free menstrual products on public college campuses.

Pratika Dhungel can be reached at [email protected].

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