We just finished the third Time of the Month Club donation drive. The ending tally was 28,776 tampons, pads and wipes for women who are homeless in Milwaukee. The supplies are delivered to emergency shelters and outreach programs and put to use right away.
There is no overhead or administrative costs. There are no fees to pay for storage or delivery. Basically, the supplies pile up in my dining room and front porch until the end of the drive. And then I count them, yes, every tampon and pad in every box, bag them up in giant black garbage bags, staple a Time of the Month label to them, and start loading up the truck. My husband, son and I make the deliveries. It’s one of the things I love about it – that the two of them are all in to help out unless they have to explain it to someone. Then they stare at their feet and mumble. Some things never change.
The donations come from far and wide. From one box of tampons to a shipment of 500. Someone will message me that they want to bring a donation by and show up with five bags crammed with product. Someone else offered to use her company to order products for people at cost, something that helped the out-of-towners join in the drive. Several people ran their own mini-donation drives (usually turning out to be not so mini) and enlisted people I’d never met in the cause. Another woman used her couponing prowess to buy literally a truckload of tampons and pads. She was our true loaves and fishes story. People I had never met contacted me wanting to be involved. The power of a friend of a friend of a friend can never be underestimated.
So what’s the magic? There isn’t any. We have a logo/look and a name that a graphic artist friend developed. I wrote a pitch piece. And from there I used Facebook. And pretty much only Facebook. That’s where I announced the donation drive, posted pictures of donors with their donations, thanked people and re-thanked them, messaged people to ask them to run mini-drives and, all the while, promoted the cause. While not entirely seat of the pants, there was no real planning, no goal setting except a vague goal that I wanted to beat last year’s tally of 10,000 (which we did).
There was also no effort to engage big corporate donors. I haven’t approached the big names in feminine hygiene products and asked them to support this local drive or launch a national effort. I’m not looking to rent a warehouse and operate a forklift. What I can fit in my dining room is just fine, thank you.
I also didn’t engage with the folks who market menstrual cups who thought women who are homeless would like the idea of a re-usable, low cost menstrual aid. I got the reasoning but my gut told me a woman who is homeless has so much else to worry about, she’s not going to want to take a chance on learning how to use a menstrual cup. She needs some tampons and she needs them now was my thinking. I’m probably wrong about that but since this donation drive is actually legally incorporated and I’m the 100% owner and board of directors, I feel okay trusting my instincts.
So why talk about it? To get praise and kudos? I get lots of those and it’s great. So I’m not looking for more. I’m talking about it because it was so easy to do. Just one person with her Facebook friends with an irresistible message and a let’s just do this attitude. This means that you can do this in your town. Just you, your commitment, your friends – you can change the lives of women who are homeless for the better.
Women know how awful it is to have their periods and be without tampons or pads, to bleed through, to worry about their clothes and to feel embarrassed and humiliated about their situation. And Time of the Month Club is a vehicle for women to do something good for another woman, something that is personal and essential. What I tell people is this: if you donate a box of sanitary pads or tampons, you will be helping a woman feel better about herself and her day. You will take a burden off her shoulders. You will help a woman keep her dignity.
And this year, people’s generosity to Time of the Month Club will make that happen 28,776 times.
That’s a really sweet deal if you ask me. Really sweet.
Posted to The Daily Post in response to today’s prompt: “Tell us about something you have done recently that has made you really, unabashedly proud.”