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Providing necessities for half the population: Tampon Tuesday a hit in Sarnia

It may not seem like an easy sell.

But a group of Sarnia volunteers have convinced innumerable donors to contribute 10,500 feminine hygiene items to those who cannot afford them.

It’s been five years since the group formed to meet a need that is often overlooked. For some, it's even difficult to articulate.

There’s been many victories over the years and the Tampon Tuesday crew said they are confident the community is becoming more comfortable discussing their mission. This week about 40 men and women got together at SidePockets Sarnia to celebrate Tampon Tuesday's fifth anniversary.

“I’m really proud of our organization,” said co-founder Michelle Parks. “Sarnia is the first community in Canada where the municipality is on board with providing free menstrual products in arenas and all city-owned public buildings.”

Lambton College and the two local school boards have also responded to the committee’s requests and started providing free feminine hygiene products in school washrooms.

These are items that are donated the least to the Inn of the Good Shepherd, said Myles Vanni who was guest speaker at the celebration.

They are also the most requested, he said. “So, five years ago when Tampon Tuesday started, it was a real blessing.”

Tampon Tuesday’s volunteers collect donated products from local stores and special events across the community.  At the Inn of the Good Shepherd, the items are discreetly placed on shelves where they can be picked up without any questions.

“We do it in a dignified manner where the women can just help themselves,” Vanni said. 

Feminine hygiene products are also distributed through The Hub, Lambton College’s food bank and several other locations.

“With 10,500 items collected in the last five years, think of the impact on women and young women in our community. It’s tremendous,” said Vanni.

As the cost of groceries rises, many women are faced with the question of buying food or hygiene products, he said. “Food usually wins.”

At Imperial Oil, spokesperson Kristina Zimmer said the company donated $5,000 to Tampon Tuesday early on.  At a  drive for donated items from Imperial workers, Zimmer said the event generated a lot of awkward discussion.

“I remember a lot of comments made in jest by the guys at our site, but the best thing was to see so many of them show up with items for the donation bins.

“I feel like we’ve de-stigmatized it.” 

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