A drive organized by Georgetown University students donated 810 tampons and pads to local homeless shelter Thrive D.C. on Nov. 28 and Dec. 1.

The drive was an assignment for a course, “The Political Economy of Entrepreneurship,” taught by professor Jason Brennan. Kelly Pysh (MSB ’20) and Beibei Jiang (MSB ’19) launched their campaign, The Period Project, to raise awareness about the lack of feminine hygiene products available to women experiencing homelessness and to collect products for donation.

Pysh and Jiang reached out to local businesses, including Saxbys coffee shop, The Tombs restaurant and Chaia restaurant, all of which sponsored tabling events in the Leavey Center. Students could donate money or drop off individual tampons and pads, picking up a free Saxby’s coffee in return.

Brennan asked the class to “do something good with $1,000” provided by alumni and a grant from BB&T Bank, just as he has for the past six years he has taught the course.

a5_period_FilePhotoAnneStonecipherForTheHoya.tif (18.82MB)

FILE PHOTO: ANNE STONECIPHER FOR THE HOYA STUDENTS ORGANIZED A DRIVE FOR FEMININE PRODUCTS TO ASSIST LOCAL HOMELESS WOMEN IN D.C.

“The goal of this assignment is to push students to apply economic and philosophical concepts to action,” Brennan wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Feminine hygiene products are often not available to homeless women because of their cost, which can be prohibitive for women who are struggling financially.

Pysh and Jiang noticed the lack of conversation around the inaccessibility of menstrual hygiene products for homeless women and said feminine hygiene products are often overlooked when assessing the needs of the homeless.

“It’s on the top of the list for shelters partly because it’s culturally taboo, so most people feel uncomfortable talking about it,” Jiang said. “Secondly, it doesn’t occur to people as something important. It doesn’t occur to them to bring tampons and pads.”

After the conclusion of the drive Dec. 1, Pysh and Jiang delivered the supplies to Thrive D.C., a shelter in the Northwest quadrant that focuses on feminine hygiene products as a main component of its aid to homeless people in Washington, D.C. The students worked closely with Thrive D.C. volunteer and in-kind coordinator Spencer Baldacci.

Thrive D.C. has dedicated considerable resources to help women gain access to feminine hygiene products and to spread awareness about an issue that is often not discussed. Thrive D.C. serves women from all different financial backgrounds, some with housing and some without, but all in need of menstrual hygiene products.

Many women go without the tampons or pads because they’re too embarrassed to ask for them, forget to get them at a shelter, or were unable to obtain the type of product they need, according to Thrive D.C.’s website.

Baldacci noted the importance of having access to these products.

“It’s a huge need especially because it’s so expensive, and it’s not really something people treat as a basic necessity. It’s usually treated as a privileged product, when in fact it’s a product that’s completely necessary to have a sanitary lifestyle and to feel comfortable in public and to be able to live a normal life,” Baldacci said.

Pysh and Jiang said they came away from the two-monthlong project with a greater understanding and awareness of the homeless population and its needs.

“I hink we realized how much we can do, like our power to do something really big with not a lot of money,” Pysh said. “We did spend our class budget, but we raised all that money and collected all those pads and tampons without spending our own money. We can do a lot if we just care enough. It’s not like we need money to do something great.”

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