Teens collect 6,000 tampons and pads for women in need

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CARMEL, Calif. — Dozens of young women, and a few young men, at Carmel High School spent their lunch break packing up tampons for the homeless on Tuesday.

“They are one of the least donated items but most needed,” said student Clementine Chamberlain.

Chamberlain is one of two students who have been leading the charge all year to collect feminine hygiene products for low income women and girls.

“We’ve been doing Tampon Tuesday at our school since September because periods are not something we think about and therefore people are not willing to donate pads and tampons to homeless shelters,” said Chamberlain.

The cause has been taken up by the school’s This Club Saves Lives group. Every Tuesday student volunteers collected sanitary napkins and tampons during lunch and their efforts got the attention of We Volunteer Now an Allstate Foundation WE’s WE Volunteer Now school campaign.

We Volunteer Now provided the club with a grant to help them purchase more products and toiletry items for Tuesday’s packaging event.

The debate over feminine hygiene products has been heating up at the state level. In December California Assemblywoman Christina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) introduced a bill that would eliminate sales tax for tampons and other female sanitary products.

Tampons, pads and menstrual cups generate about $19 million a year in state tax revenue. The items are gender specific and Garcia and others feel the tax unfairly targets women.

Low income women across the nation struggle to pay for feminine hygiene products. Neither Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan benefits nor Women, Infant and Children benefits can be used to purchase tampons, pads or other toiletries. It’s estimated young girls miss up to five days of school when their parents cannot afford to purchase sanitary products for them.

“You think that your necessities are in your food and your shelter and if you have those things you have everything but it is really necessary for every woman to have tampons,” said Aminah Khahlil.

Kahlil has been working closely with Chamberlain and club members of their group This Club Saves Lives to bring attention to the issue. The teens have been using social media and school assemblies to get out the word and drive up donations.

“We have been able to bring people over to join the cause instead of just watch it happen,” said Khahlil.

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