“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” — Mother Teresa
Parts of Miami remind me of a tropical Skid Row. People without homes, carrying all of their belongings in tattered bags or carts, taking refuge beside trees or asking for change on street corners. Of the countless homeless people I encountered while living there, one woman in particular stands out. She would wander my neighborhood with wonder in her eyes, asking if I’d seen “the Scarecrow” or knew the “way to the Wizard.” More than once I glimpsed her clicking her heels together; “there’s no place like home.”
There’s a lot I could say about the woman I quickly learned to call “Dorothy,” but what’s been striking me lately is a way I wish I would have helped her.
I often gave her small amounts of money or food, but it never even crossed my mind to give her feminine hygiene products. Every so often she’d disappear for a few days or more. Looking back, I wouldn’t be surprised if her period was the reason. Regardless, menstruating likely made her life on the streets more difficult.
It’s one thing to not have access to feminine hygiene products when Aunt Flo arrives unexpectedly in the middle of a yoga class, date or business meeting. (I think most of us gals have been there.) It’s another thing entirely when you’re forced to bleed through your clothes for days, or to use soiled clothing or garbage as a “pad.” Forget about ice packs, painkillers or a comfortable place to rest away cramps and headaches.
A lack of feminine hygiene products is a huge, often devastating problem for homeless women. Because menstruation remains sadly taboo in our culture, it’s rarely even thought of by the masses. We may donate canned goods and spare quarters, but tampons?
It’s not surprising that menstrual products are among the most needed supplies in women’s shelters, and the least often donated. So here’s an idea I’m committing to myself. Make a point of donating them. Keep extras in your purse or car. Place them in bags with a snack and spare change to hand out to women you pass by on the streets. You could very well bring much-needed sunshine to a woman’s life.
Some of you helped women in need by purchasing Embraceable last week. Thanks so, so much! As promised, I used $1 from every paperback purchase during its release week to purchase feminine hygiene products for a busy Los Angeles women’s shelter. Here’s the stash I’m dropping off today.
Huge thanks to everyone who tweeted, commented and shared thoughts and support during the giveaway contest. Here are the winners!
- 1 Clitoring from Penelopi Jones: Jennifer Silva Redmond
- 1 $100 pre-paid credit card from Denise: Laura Probert
- 1 Rose Gold Vesper: Kitt Crescendo
- 1 $50 Amazon gift card: Sarah Johnston
- 1 BioMatch Femhygiene set from Good Clean Love: Amy Kennedy
- 3 Embraceable goody packs, including a signed paperback, #YouSparkle sticky notes and a Girl Boner® lip lube: Jess Witkins, Jessica Wheeler and Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Winners: I’ll contact you for your addresses. If you don’t hear from me within 48 hours, please contact me.
Have you ever donated feminine hygiene products to the homeless? What other steps do you take to support them? I love hearing from y’all!