This Teen Has Raised Thousands of Dollars to Help Homeless Women Get Through Their Periods
For homeless women, menstruation is more than just a potential cause of annoyance. It can also be a source of embarrassment and hygiene problems, since many don't have the supplies to prevent their periods from leaking. 15-year-old Lily Alter, a sophomore at Oak Park River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois, has raised almost $8,000 to help change that.
Her GoFundMe campaign aims to distribute "FlowKits," which each contain basic toiletries and 14 pads, tampons, pantyliners, and wipes, and incontinence kits, which contain 20 bladder pads and 14 wipes, to homeless women in and around Chicago. Since it launched in April, the initiative has successfully distributed 400 kits, and it's now aiming to get $10,000 in donations.
"The more I researched the issue, the more passionate I became about wanting to help women have access to this extremely basic need," the campaign's page reads. Students in Alter's English class had to write a fake grant proposal, and she was determined to make hers a reality.
She told The Chicago Tribune that she was surprised and disappointed by the lack of menstrual supplies freely available to women, especially given how common it is to get condoms at no cost. "Menstrual supplies are more necessary, but you can't get them for free," she pointed out. Though New York City recently passed legislation to make tampons available for free in homeless shelters, schools, and jails, other states have yet to follow suit.
Fortunately, her project is already making menstruation a bit easier for women in her area. She remembers giving the kit to a young woman at her church's homeless shelter. "The girl hugged me, and I was so happy," she said. "I felt like, 'Man. I'm exactly like her. I was like her two years ago, and I'm pretty much just like her now.'"
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