This Woman’s Tweet Inspired the First-Ever National Period Product Drive
by Nadya Okamoto
Nadya, a Doodle Ambassador and Founder of Camions of Care, a non-profit that works to get tampons and pads to homeless women around the world, interviewed Holly Sanchez, the inspiration behind DoSomething.org’s first-ever national period product drive: Bring Power to the Period. To help collect period products for the 3.5 million people experiencing homelessness in the US, come to our Doodle Workshop in NYC this Saturday or text PERIOD to 38383.
In homeless shelters striving to serve the “3.5 million Americans who experience homelessness each year,” “period products are some of the most needed items in homeless shelters across the country.” This is why DoSomething.org is hosting a nationwide period product drive to benefit homeless women and girls. The campaign — which runs until September 30th — was inspired by a Chicago-based law student, Holly Sanchez, who came to realize that “many people who experience homelessness have limited to no access to period products.” After she posted a tweet encouraging others to collect and donate period products to those in need, U by Kotex responded to Holly with the opportunity to create the “first-ever, national period product drive” with DoSomething.org. Keep reading to find out how growing up on a Native American Reservation taught Holly the value of community and how having many sisters shaped her service leadership and advocacy work today.
SOD: How were you introduced to the need for menstrual hygiene for women and girls in the United States?
HS: I’ve seen glimpses of the need for menstrual hygiene and education in a number of places, as a camp counselor, working post college at a shelter for women and children, andseeing the large population of people experiencing homelessness here in Chicago who lack these products. It’s widespread — so much more than people would think.
SOD: What inspired you to take action around this cause?
HS: Along with seeing the need through my work at the shelter, I was also part of a local period products drive at my law school with other women who were passionate about these issues.
When I get excited about an issue, I tend to get pretty active on social media, and that’s what happened here! I was thrilled when U by Kotex reached out to me about being a part of Power to the Period, the first-ever national period product drive, executed in partnership with DoSomething.org. It’s been awesome to see how my thoughts, paired with these small local actions, wound up turning into a huge national drive which has collected hundreds of thousands of period products to date.
Power to the Period is the second installment of the U by Kotex Period Projects — a groundbreaking series of projects, each inspired by a woman who shares the brand’s passion for creating change.
SOD: What is your personal background?
HS: I’m currently in my last year of law school so I’m excited to enter the professional world and apply these passions to tangible results in the legal sphere.
SOD: Why do you think that youth should be involved in service and advocacy initiatives?
HS: Youth are the voice that can effectuate real change. Youth are also the ones who will create policies that directly impact our generation and those to come. Being involved in service and advocacy initiatives has the power to shape our thinking and understanding of the needs of others.
SOD: School of Doodle has launched what we call the #BeLoud revolution, which encourages girls to be fearless in voicing their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. What does it mean to you to #BeLoud and how do you think that you embody that fearlessness?
HS: #BeLoud. I love that! To me, being loud means being confident in my intelligence and capabilities and knowing that all of my elements (being a woman, being Latina, etc.) give me unique insight that can really contribute to the betterment of society. I embody fearlessness by never letting anything stop me from accomplishing what I know that I can. I’m the first in my family to do and experience a lot of things and navigating these spaces alone has taught me that I’m resilient and strong. And everyone has these qualities!
SOD: What other issues are you passionate about?
HS: Along with reproductive justice generally, I’m super committed to being a part of the advancement of women, people with disabilities, people of color, and the queer community in the professional field — specifically the legal field.
SOD: In regards to the fight to make menstrual hygiene more accessible, what do you think that youth can do to get involved?
HS: It’s been rewarding to work together with U by Kotex and DoSomething.org to help support the period needs of people experiencing homelessness so they can have one less thing to worry about. There are a only few days of Power to the Period left, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t collect and donate items to local shelters (or schools!) all year round. Just because the project is ending does not mean that the need goes away- we need to keep working on breaking taboos and bringing awareness and accessibility to menstrual hygiene and reproductive health!
Not all tweets will turn into national projects, BUT social media is such a powerful tool to continue the conversation. You can also join with friends to champion shelters, services, and causes you’re committed to in your community. It’s so beneficial to accessibility when you spread awareness about important organizations that provide reproductive health services to people in your community!
SOD: Were you ever afraid to talk about periods? If so, what made you more confident to share about your experiences?
HS: I have four sisters, so we grew up talking about periods very openly in our house. It was so odd to me when I left for college and this completely natural phenomena was a total taboo! I just keep telling myself and others that along with periods being natural, the larger conversation of reproductive health is applicable to everyone — whether you have a period or not! This is an issue of health and we should be able to talk about these openly.
Power to the Period is not the only Period Project that U by Kotex has done (or will do!). And being involved in the Period Projects can definitely help open and ease the conversation! You can check out www.ubykotex.com for more info or request a free product sample, and use #periodprojects to join the conversation online.
SOD: How do you think that your upbringing has shaped the values that you have today?
HS: I grew up on a Native American Reservation where people really embody this idea of community and rallying to serve others which I think is so applicable to how I rally to take action about things I’m passionate about. My upbringing definitely instilled in me the ideals of recognizing the humanity of all people and treating others the way I want to be treated.