HOLYOKE - "Periods don't stop during pandemics," is the slogan for a new initiative called "Project Red." They help provide basic hygiene and menstrual products to girls in Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield.
For more than six hours on Thursday, Girls, Inc. of the Valley collected donations of menstrual pads, tooth brushes, tooth paste and deodorant, along with monetary donations as well. Girls, Inc. helps girls between the ages of 5 and 18. The items they collected will be going to girls based on their age and needs.
Suzanne Parker is the Executive Director of Girls, Inc. of the Valley and explained these items are important.
"We know girls and families have a need out there. They are in often cases making a choice between food and basic hygiene products so we want to help meet that need," Parker said.
Project Red started because organizers discovered a big need for these items during the coronavirus pandemic especially with schools closed and their in person programs on pause.
"Normally girls are in school now, so if they have a need they are able to go to the health offices to get those supplies or they come to our girls inc programs, youth development programs but those are not open right now," Parker said.
Ana Gerena is the Director of the Mariposa Center. She said since menstrual products can be expensive, they wanted to help the community.
"We did do a survey into the community to see if there was a need and there was a big overwhelming yes that this is something they are looking for," Gerena said.
With all of the donations and help of the staff and volunteers, they are hoping to give four months of supplies to 500 girls and families in need.
16-year-old Evelyn Humphries is a member of Girls, Inc. of the Valley and has been volunteering with the group for five years.
"Ive been fortunate enough I haven't faced this issue so it's been really important to me to give back and knowing that i am making a difference to kids in the same situation as me is really awesome," said Humphries.
Though it is the first time Girls, Inc has done Project Red, it is something they hope to keep going.
"It's something I hope we continue on in the future past the pandemic and make sure everyone in our community has access to menstrual products," Gerena said.
More information can be found on their website www.girlsincvalley.org