HCN News & Notes

Zonta Club Donates Period Kits to MHA’s Good to Go Program

SPRINGFIELD — For women living with homelessness, poverty, or respite crisis, having a period is more than a hassle. It can be a financial burden on an already-strained budget. Basic menstrual hygiene products are costly, so it’s especially hard for women struggling to support themselves and their families. But pads and tampons are considered ‘non-essential’ by the federal government, which means they are not covered by safety-net programs such as SNAP and WIC.

The Zonta Clubs in Western Mass. are addressing this specific challenge through the Period Project, which distributes dignity to women and teens in need. Local Zonta Club members collect donations of money and items to create period kits. The kits are then supplied to local shelters, food banks, and other nonprofit organizations that serve those in need.

Recently, Zonta Clubs in Western Mass. donated hundreds of period kits to Good to Go, a new initiative of MHA which supplies individuals served by the organization with basic personal-care items, such as soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, undergarments, and socks — and now, for the women served, a period kit.

“MHA is absolutely thrilled to receive these period kits donated by Zonta Clubs in Western Mass.,” said Kimberley Lee, vice president, Resource Development & Branding for MHA. “Good to Go has been making an important difference in the lives of vulnerable people, and now we’re better able to serve women with basic, crucial personal-care items that people don’t always think to donate.”

Mary Knight, Communications director for Zonta Clubs in Western Mass., added that “Zonta International works to empower women through service and advocacy. Our organization is in 68 countries worldwide, but locally our focus is on women in need. Our members work to share the message that women who are without means can’t use SNAP or WIC to buy feminine products. Often, that means women who are struggling financially can’t go to work, and teens can’t go to school, because they lack protection. It’s humiliating and unfair. The Period Project was created to raise awareness and to collect donations of money and products to make a difference. Together, we’re making period a little easier for women and teens in need.”

On Feb. 11, local Zonta Club members organized a group of 60 volunteers into teams of six, created an assembly line, and collated more than 1,000 individual period kits. Each kit contains pads, tampons, underwear, panty liners, assorted toiletries, and personal-care supplies for one period, all in a one-gallon, zip-close plastic bag. This approach to packaging means kits can easily be taken off the shelf and handed out to women and teens who need them.

“We encourage people to bring period supplies to local shelters or food banks or organizations like MHA,” said Knight. “For women in need, a period kit gives them one less thing to worry about.”