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Volunteers provide menstrual products to Halifax shelters

Packing party ends with tampons and pads in 222 bags

3 min read
People pack brown paper bags with tampons and pads.
caption Volunteers pack menstrual products in bags for Halifax shelters.
Cynthia d'Entremont

Margaret Purkiss is happy to pack tampons for a stranger.

The Dalhousie University commerce student joined an assembly line of volunteers Wednesday to bag menstrual products for the homeless. The event, which took place in the Dalhousie Student Union Building, was hosted by PERIOD@Dalhousie.

PERIOD@Dalhousie is a campus chapter of the international non-profit organization, PERIOD. The Menstrual Movement. The Dalhousie chapter raises funds to purchase menstrual products for Shelter Nova Scotia.

Purkiss heard about the group at a society expo.

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“It kind of inspired me,” she said. “It’s good for the people who need it.”

Claire Sethuram, co-president of the Dalhousie group, said a year ago they started with a few volunteers and products. On Wednesday, there were 15 volunteers packing 3,830 tampons and pads.

“It’s quite something,” Sethuram said. “I think it’s really cool to see a lot of new people coming out too.”

PERIOD@Dalhousie raises funds to buy products through events such as bake sales and exercise classes. According to the international organization’s head office, Dalhousie was the second highest fundraising chapter in October.

“All the funds are used for our community,” Sethuram said.

Tampons and pads are being put in paper bags.
caption Each bag contains nine tampons and six pads.
Cynthia d'Entremont

Another volunteer, Victoria Palmer, graduated from Dalhousie in May but still attends parties as a regular packer.

“It’s just such a great cause and women helping other women or people in need is just so great to come together and work with each other,” Palmer said.

At packing parties, recyclable brown paper bags are stamped with the PERIOD. The Menstrual Movement logo. Each bag has nine tampons and six pads.

Person writing notes with paper bags on a table.
caption Handwritten notes are included in donation bags.
Cynthia d'Entremont

Only disposable menstrual products are donated to ensure that recipients have clean products to use. The donations mean those who menstruate won’t have to pay the $3.79 to $6.49 it may cost for a small box of 18-20 tampons or pads.

These donations have a “huge impact,” said Amie Leslie, house manager at Barry House of Shelter Nova Scotia.

“There are times when these folks have difficult decisions to make on what to spend their money on, and having a supply of menstrual products can relieve this pressure,” Leslie said in an email to The Signal.

Leslie said there are others who donate needed menstrual products, but PERIOD@Dalhousie’s year-round effort “helps us greatly.”

According to the Report on the 2018 Halifax Point in Time Count, about one-third of the 220 visible homeless in Halifax on April 24 were women.

People are packing brown paper bags with menstrual products.
caption Volunteers pack 222 paper bags with menstrual products at a packing party.
Cynthia d'Entremont

Amanda Medjuck, co-founder of the Dalhousie society, said because of the group’s work, she’s more aware of the challenges some people face.

“I don’t know that when I was walking down the street last year, I would have thought to drop a tampon in a person’s cup as opposed to a couple dollars,” said Medjuck.

The packing party wrapped up after the bags ran out. In total, 222 bags were filled.

PERIOD@Dalhousie’s next fundraising event is Feb. 15 at Garrison Brewery.

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