Kelsee Brady, managing editor 

From Apr. 1 to Apr. 22, EMPOWER is having a period product drive to raise funds and awareness to period poverty and the resources available to homeless people with uteruses. 

EMPOWER is a student organization focused on intersectionality, according to first-time member Teryn Ferrell, senior. Intersectionality is a term to describe the overlapping of groups, classes and races, which creates an environment welcome to all. 

Ferrell spearheaded the planning of the period product drive this semester and changed the way that students donate to the drive. 

“Previously, EMPOWER would have collection boxes around campus,” Ferrell said. “They were normally in Krannert, Mac, the library, places like that. People would be able to drop off any spare period products that they had in those boxes. We didn’t really experience a lot of success from that though.” 

This year, Ferrell decided to revamp the drive and promote in a different way. Flyers posted around campus and on social media advertise a QR code where Berry students, faculty and staff can donate money towards the drive. 

Ferrell set up a venmo found as @EMPOWERedperiodproducts for people to donate to the cause. 

With an initial goal of $100 total for the drive, the group is set to surpass that goal with $75 collected within less than a week after the start of the drive, according to Ferrell. 

EMPOWER Secretary, Emma Moore, freshman, said that having periods is expensive and it can be difficult for people living in poverty to afford period products. 

“A lot of [homeless shelters] don’t provide [period products] for women, and even when they do, you have the pink tax on them because they are deemed a luxury item, which isn’t true,” Moore said. “I think those with periods wouldn’t deem it a luxury to have one.” 

The initial purpose of the period product drive is unchanged, according to Ferrell. EMPOWER hopes to raise awareness of period poverty. 

“Period poverty is the lack of access to any period products, whether that’s hygiene, education, things like that,” Ferrell said. “A lot of people don’t really think about period poverty existing but then, once you start bringing up people who are at risk or potentially homeless then the wheels get turning a little bit.” 

One of the biggest issues that EMPOWER wants to raise awareness of when it comes to period poverty is that homeless shelters are unable to provide enough products for people with uteruses who need them and government assistance programs like food stamps and EBT do not include period products as covered items. 

“Two out of three homeless people say that they can’t afford period products, which is so unfortunate because they’re like 32 million people under the federal poverty line, but food stamps don’t include period products so it’s this endless cycle that never stops,” Ferrell said. “At the same time, homeless people can’t afford period products. Homeless shelters normally only have two pads to give per cycle. People with uteruses normally need 20 pads, that does not make any sense at all.” 

Laura Beth Transue is a freshman who joined EMPOWER this year. She shared her beliefs about why period poverty exists and is not talked about as much. 

“I think when a lot of people do donate to homeless shelters, they focus more on shelf-stable good and food,” Transue said. “I think a lot of people gloss over the nitty gritty, and there’s already a stigma in society about periods and there’s a stigma around homelessness so why would we talk about both of those at the same time?” 

Ferrell, Moore and Transure all emphasized that Berry students can help out with the period product drive even if they are unable to donate money to the cause. Attending EMPOWER meetings, raising awareness on social media or donating period products are just a few ways that people can contribute besides monetary donations. 

More information about the period product drive, the venmo for donations and ways to get involved with EMPOWER can be found on their Instagram @berry.empower. EMPOWER meets on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in Evans 118. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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