Girl Up and Feminism Club hosts Period Product Drive

Period Product Drive collects tampons and pads in support of impoverished women

Stephanie Kim

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During the week of Nov. 14, any student present at school would probably have noticed the brown paper bags sitting in various classrooms, hopefully overflowing with boxes of period products.

This event, while seemingly just another donation drive, was the brand new Period Product Drive, sponsored by Girl Up and Feminism Club.

New Trier’s Period Product Drive was a weeklong drive where the aim was to collect pads and tampons from female adviseries, which were donated to homeless women and girls.

“We put these paper bags in a bunch of the advisery rooms, and we asked people to bring pads and tampons that they had, or to go out and buy them,” said senior Girl Up co-head Samantha Scheinfeld. “They go to the YWCA in Chicago, and we’re [Feminism Club and Girl Up] working together.”

Since the donations go to the YWCA, the Period Product Drive is local, which can be seen as a benefit. “Normally, we focus a lot on global issues, which is amazing, but it was nice to do something for the local community,” said Scheinfeld.

The idea behind the Period Product Drive is that these products are often not accessible to the majority of women in poverty. Therefore, since students in the district have or can generally afford period supplies, they can donate them to shelters that can’t pay the price.

Sophomore Helen Kuhn, a recent member of the club, shares this belief. “We are so fortunate that we can buy our own supplies,” said Kuhn. “So, we are donating the supplies to homeless shelters, so they can have the supplies without really spending any money.”

The Period Project was run by both Girl Up and Feminism Club, which are closely related. Girl Up is a co-ed program that exists within New Trier and across the nation, in partnership with the United Nations.

According to the official website, the goal is to empower girls and help them “transform our world – Girl Up engages girls to take action.”

Girl Up’s purpose is not just to raise money for causes, but also to advocate for them, according to seniors Ali Christian and Ingrid Wefing.

“We spend a lot of time in the club learning about things that are happening,” said Wefing. Christian agreed with the idea that Girl Up goes beyond just being able to fundraise.

“I think [learning] is a big part of what Girl Up is about, besides just raising money.”

Similar to Girl Up, Feminism Club is a club that exists not just at New Trier, but also at public and private schools in the area and nationwide.

Feminism Club works to be a space for conversation, open to all genders, where students can learn about feminism and other related topics.

“Feminism is becoming an increasingly intersectional topic,” said adviser and art teacher Gardiner Funo. “We have a lot of conversations about current events – and it’s not always feminine issues.”

Among the issues that Girl Up and Feminism Club tackle, periods are a problem that are particularly hard to confront. Period products can be difficult to purchase for impoverished women, since their income has to be spent on other necessities, like basic shelter.

“They can’t even afford a place to live and food to eat. How can they afford pads and tampons?” said Scheinfeld.

This inaccessibility also comes from the fact that talking about periods or similar topics are considered “taboo”, which leads to a lack of open conversation and awareness, especially with students.

“They may not want to divulge any personal information” said Kinetic Wellness and Health teacher Kate Goodman. Even across her sophomore Health classes, Goodman notices a lack of participation among students.

“Sophomores are worried about what they look like in front of their peers, typically.”

Despite the “taboo” nature of the topic of periods, the Period Project was effective. Over the course of the week, many donations consistently came in from a majority of the adviseries, which was indicative of the drive’s success.

“A lot of people have been bringing something in – it’s something that all girls usually have in their house, so it’s super easy,” said sophomore and Girl Up member Kathleen Hopps.

Junior Maggie DiPatri witnessed its success herself. “My advisery had a full bag, and some adviseries have had multiple bags, so it’s definitely gone well.”

DiPatri added that she didn’t really witness any roadblocks with the female advisories contributing, either.

Funo also didn’t get the impression that the drive had been struggling – instead, she saw how it thrived.

“One of the advantages of doing a drive for something like this, and doing it publicly, is that it normalizes that part of life,” Funo said.

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