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Period Poverty Project Featured in Medina Gazette



Medina residents collecting products to combat period poverty in area


Sep 21, 2023 5:00 AM

MEDINA — With the direction of several Medina community members, hundreds of period products are being collected throughout September for those in need, all while the struggles of period poverty are discussed. For the past three years, Ellen Nolan has organized the effort to collect period products for people throughout the county in need. In 2021, Nolan collected enough period products to make over 1,200 kits to distribute to several school districts throughout the county with the help of Medina United Church of Christ, Congregational. Then, in 2022, she collected enough period products to make 600 period packs to give out to school districts to ensure that girls have access to period supplies when needed. Now, Nolan’s project has evolved from previous years, focusing on fitting the needs while also creating more sustainable options, including period underwear. With the introduction of period underwear, Nolan said it would help people who may be struggling financially month in and month out. “By introducing the underwear, it eliminates a lot of the need for liners and sometimes other products depending on what they need,” she said. In addition, each pair of underwear will come with a small bottle of laundry detergent and a QR code to scan for instructions on how to wash them. As the project shifted to include period underwear, Nolan said there was also a shift in how period products are distributed. In past years, Nolan worked to create period kits. After speaking with the school nurses, she found that middle and high school students would typically come into the nurse’s office to grab one product at a time, rather than needing a whole kit. With that in mind, the project’s focus shifted, as Nolan plans to deliver packages with period underwear in them and boxes of period products to the middle and high schools. Nolan was contacted by the Medina County Health Department, which shared an interest in creating the kits themselves for all elementary school-aged kids. “They are providing the kits to the elementary schools and some other area agencies, which is phenomenal,” Nolan said. “(It’s) really allowing us to do boxed products and then the underwear bags.” In addition to local churches and organizations participating in the period project through Sept. 30, Spark Medina has created its own service project oriented around the topic. Spark Medina provides volunteering opportunities for kids and their family members to not only give back to the community but also learn and talk about tough issues. “We don’t want to just do the service,” Spark Medina member Melissa Bilikam said. “We want to learn. We want to teach them.” Since the group’s official formation in February, participants have talked about food insecurity while making snack packs for the little free food pantries, mental health while making cards and more. Throughout September, Spark Medina is hosting Spark at Home: Combatting Period Poverty, which can be found at bit.ly/3ZmVAGR. “(The program is) for families to talk about period poverty and learn more about it,” Spark Medina member Katy Medley said. “We’ve worked really hard to gear that so all ages can participate.” Medley said that each family will follow a program guide with discussion questions, a topic-specific picture book, videos and a service project, focusing on making encouragement cards to go with the products. In addition to making the encouragement cards, Bilikam said that the families are provided with a direct link to an Amazon wish list for the project, allowing them to make a donation. “There’s just a large need in our community and I feel that it’s very important, not only to give back but also, to educate,” Bilikam said. Contact reporter Sara Crawford at (330) 721-4063 or scrawford@medina-gazette.com.

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