Unique fundraiser collects hygiene products for homeless women - WSMV Channel 4

Unique fundraiser collects hygiene products for homeless women

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Have you ever brought canned goods to a food drive or donated an unused coat? There's something else that's badly needed but rarely donated.

Kate Parrish started wondering what homeless women do when they have their periods. She started calling shelters.

"Are these items that you need, and are they donated? And they said, 'Yes, we desperately need these things and no, they're never donated,'" Parrish said.

She started a drive called "It’s the Holidays, Period" to collect feminine hygiene products for women in shelters and transitional housing.

She raised $4,200 dollars and collected 1,800 boxes of tampons and pads last year.

"This is really normal. This happens every month and no one should have to go without access to a basic hygiene item or have their dignity jeopardized in any way," Parrish said.

"If you’re homeless, you need the same things that you or I would need," said Melanie Barnett, community development director of Room in the Inn.

Barnett sees the number of homeless women on the rise in Nashville.

"This is always a need at Room in the Inn with the number of ladies we see. We do have about 16 percent women, as far as our population during the winter months, so that's upwards of 60 ladies who come and use our services," Barnett said.

Parrish hopes to raise $5,000 this year and collect 2,000 boxes of tampons and pads. All of it will be donated to Room in the Inn and two other Nashville non-profits.

A box of tampons can cost $5 to $7 and can’t be purchased with food stamps, Parrish said. She said women shouldn't have to choose between hygiene and a bus pass or extra food for their children.

“It’s just not the first thing you think of when making a product donation. You think of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner. My mind just never went there. And I don't think I'm alone in that," Parrish said.

Donations are being accepted at this GoFundMe page.

To drop off products, visit two different Vinnie Louise clothing stores. One is in 12 South at 2309 12th Avenue South, the other is in east Nashville at 737 Porter Road.

Vinnie Louise is offering a 10 percent discount with a donation.

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