Student collect menstrual, hygiene products for Grace House


Kiersten Riedford

Freshmen Jillian Muncaster, Amber Rosegay and Casey Fong organize their donations. All donations will go towards the Grace House.

Three freshman students have collected over 370 menstrual and hygiene products to donate towards The Grace House.

Freshmen Jillian Muncaster, Amber Rosegay and Casey Fong partnered with nationwide campaign Her Drive to collect these items. Her Drive is an organization that collects feminine hygiene products and clothing to distribute them amongst local charities.

Muncaster, Rosegay and Fong held their first drive the week of Feb. 14. The group decided to donate all their items collected to the Grace House, located near the United Center.

The Grace House serves formerly incarcerated women, primarily from the South and West Sides. They provide temporary housing, emotional and spiritual support services, according to their website.

Rosegay participated in Her Drive when she was in high school and was first to bring up the idea to the group.

“I was thinking back to my senior year, I participated in a drive for ‘Her Drive’ before,” she said. “I remember how good it made me feel to be able to do that to be able to help other people.”

The group chose Her Drive based on its mission. Her Drive has been able to collect over 160,000 general hygiene products and over 400,000 femine hygiene products nationwide.

“[Her Drive] shines a spotlight on the lack of period products, or just in general feminine hygiene products for certain populations,” Fong said. “It goes beyond homeless populations. There’s a large, low income demographic in the U.S. and they don’t have a lot of access to periods just due to financial constraints.”

On average, people spend about $1,700 for tampons and $4,700 for pads annually, according to Pandia Health. On top of these costs, people have the additional costs of laundry, medicine and personal humiliation.

“Feminine products are so expensive,” Muncaster said. “There are pockets of people here who are greatly suffering. They’re often overlooked. So I think when deciding who we were going to donate our items to, that was a huge thing as well.”

Rosegay had called the Grace House and asked what items their community needed. It helped the group prioritize which items to collect.

“[The Grace House] said socks are a huge thing that they need,” Muncaster said. “So that would go right to the top of our list. They do need the feminine products like pads and tampons, but equally as important are hygiene items and socks. It’s a center for women and children and so general items as well are needed.”

This could also include the people who needed these items yet did not identify as female.

“It’s supposed to be an inclusive space,” Fong said. “We welcome all kinds of items. So we’re including not only people who have periods, but in general people who really need toothpaste, condoms, underwear and socks.”

The group decided to add a monetary donation option as well. Their first drive collected $473 and they used those funds to buy more priority items which raised their total item count to 1,840.

“The monetary donations [has opened] up so many possibilities because not everyone is able to get goods or have goods or make it all the way to DePaul,” Rosegay said. “Not only was that great, but also we were able to go out and buy more goods.”

The group could only start to advertise for three days before they started collecting due to a scheduling pushback from DePaul. This cost them time to promote the drive.

“We got this pushback from DePaul to actually set up a stand to have the drop off [donation box],” Muncaster said. “We tried to talk to several people to get it set up and we just kept having to jump through hoops. That was probably the most stressful part of setting everything up.”

Their next drive will start March 4 and run through March 11 in the Lincoln Park Student Center. There is a 24-hour drop box under the stairs for people to donate before the drive starts.

“We’re really trying to use all of [the two weeks between first and second drive] so that we can promote it as much as possible,” Rosegay said. “I think with the more time that we have between our next drive is going to help a lot.”

Muncaster, Rosegay and Fong envision holding a drive annually and having more promotion in the future. They also plan to raise more awareness about gender inequity issues.

“Because at the end of the day, DePaul, it’s Vincentian mission is to uplift the exploited and  the underrepresented,” Fong said. “That is what we’re trying to achieve here. Our goal is to see more people come out and really talk to us and have conversations about these issues that are present but not talked about enough in our communities.”