Now that it's the holiday season, people may be feeling generous and want to do good. Some may want to donate hygiene products to a local homeless shelter, which is a good idea. Homeless shelters could always use items like soap, toothbrushes, or toothpaste.
But I remember something I learned last year from Kaitlin Beck and students with Law Students for Reproductive Justice. They had conducted a donation drive for an important item that is often overlooked in donations. They were collecting feminine hygiene products (pads and tampons) to provide for homeless women.
Truth be told, I wouldn't have thought about how homeless women would need feminine hygiene products. I don't know much about menstruation and the daily realities that women face. Yet there is no doubt that safe and sanitary products are necessary for all women. Moreover, such products allow homeless women to maintain a sense of dignity in circumstances that leave them feeling displaced or invisible.
Donors may be reluctant to donate feminine hygiene products because of a sense of shame or discomfort regarding menstruation. People feel weird talking about it. As a consequence, the needs of homeless women for these products goes unmet.
So if you plan to donate an item to a local homeless shelter, consider asking if the shelter needs feminine hygiene products. You could really help meet a need.