Local teen aims to raise awareness on period poverty

Posted 9/1/21

25 million American women are impoverished, claims Regis College’s Online Post-Master’s Certificate program, “but food stamps don’t cover menstrual products.” Period Equity is a legal …

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Local teen aims to raise awareness on period poverty


25 million American women are impoverished, claims Regis College’s Online Post-Master’s Certificate program, “but food stamps don’t cover menstrual products.” Period Equity is a legal organization that aims to achieve menstrual equity. In 2020, they reported that pads, tampons, and related goods were subject to sales tax in 27 states. Minnesota did not and does not charge a tax on feminine protection. Still, Period Equity wrote, “A back-of-the-envelope calculation…suggests that the tax generates about $88 million in revenue, annually…”

Poverty and sales taxes can be barriers from people securing the hygienic items that they require. They could become victims of period poverty. “Period poverty refers to the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and educations, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste management,” defines the American Medical Women’s Association.

This is the issue that Her Drive aims to “eliminate.” Thirteen hundred dollars, about 800 bras, 4,635 menstrual care products, and 1,000 general hygiene items were distributed to five different relief programs as a result of the debut Her Drive. One month prior, in June of 2020, the nonprofit organization was founded by two students. Their names are Alexa Mohsenzadeh and Jenica Baron.

Her Drive had its start and continues to be based in Chicago, IL. Even so, Her Drives have occurred across the United States. This is due to the Host Your Own Drive Program, which initiated in October of 2020. “Since then, we have hosted over 100 drives nationwide, with an additional 350+ drives scheduled for Spring 2021, and we have collected 21,212 bras, 417,302 period products, and 164,334 general hygiene items,” reported Her Drive on their official webpage.

In the 2020-2021 school year, Avery Weston, a Park High School student, was searching for a community service project to partake in during the following summer. That was when she encountered Her Drive on the mobile app, TikTok. “It seemed like the perfect thing,” the 17-year-old expressed in an interview with The Journal on Aug. 26.

Before becoming associated with Her Drive, Weston educated herself on period poverty. She told The Journal, “I actually first learned about it when I took a political science class last year…our final project was to write a research paper on any public policy that we wanted to…So I was like, ‘Hey, let’s do…mine on period poverty.’” Upon completing the final, Weston was especially motivated to facilitate a Her Drive. Her first step was seeking out people who were willing to assist her. Weston spoke with her fellow members of Diversify Our Narrative 833. The organization is made up of Park, Woodbury, and East Ridge High School students. They are calling on South Washington County Schools to insert anti-racist texts into the English curriculum. Roughly five girls in Diversify Our Narrative 833 felt intrigued to run a Her Drive. Weston held a Zoom meeting with that group where they filled out the Host A Drive Application together. What occurred next was revealed to The Journal: “…we got accepted into it.”

Preparations for Her Drive x Woodbury, MN launched. Weston was spreading the word on social media. Also, she was contacting and prompting businesses to participate. On top of those tasks, Weston had purchased donation bins with her own money. By Aug. 26, Weston had invested over 20 hours into Her Drive x Woodbury, MN. She confessed, “…it takes a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding.”

Through Her Drive x Woodbury, MN, Weston aspires to raise awareness and reduce squeamishness around period poverty. Those who cannot afford period products oftentimes do not request for help. Weston reasoned, “Nobody would really be able to ask for that without [others] being like, ‘…Why are you talking so loud?’” She proceeded, “I don’t want it to be such a squeamish topic because half the population goes through itat least.”

Secondly, Weston is aiming to be as gender-inclusive as possible while marketing Her Drive x Woodbury, MN. “We’re donating to people in need,” stated Weston. “We’re not just donating to women… It’s not just women who get their period. It’s also [transgender] people; it’s also non binary people… it’s even more taboo for them to…say that they need help.”

Her Drive x Woodbury, MN is currently accepting donations. They are calling on locals to give period products as well as gently-used bras, new bras, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, ethnic hair care products, towels, wash cloths, loofas, facial cleansing brushes, PH balanced vaginal wipes, PH balanced body wash, sheet face masks, and socks.

Her Drive x Woodbury, MN collection bins are located at Woodbury, Park, and East Ridge High School. A donation box can be found at Energy Pilates Fitness Yoga in Woodbury, too. All four bins will stay intact through Sept. 19. Another way to donate to Her Drive x Woodbury, MN is by interacting with their Amazon Wishlist. If readers favor this option, they can navigate to www.amazon. com/hz/wishlist/ls/3DLULOIODU3V6? ref_=wl_ share .

All of the goods that Her Drive x Woodbury, MN gathers will either be delivered to Dakota Woodlands or Women of Nations. Dakota Woodlands is pinpointed in Eagan, MN. The homeless family shelter aids residents as they attempt to meet their healthcare, housing, economic, and wellness goals. Women of Nations is an organization that tends to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. They are a “Native American culturally- focused organization.” Even so, their emergency services, support, and shelter in St. Paul, MN are available to anybody in crisis.

At the conclusion of The Journal’s discussion with Weston, she wished to relay this message to the community: “Donate if you can. Don’t get squeamish about talking about the topic because it does affect so many people…your mom might have been affected by it, your sister, your grandma; people who have raised you…it’s very normal.”