The Orange County Social Club will be hosting an event on Saturday evening that, on the surface, will look like any other benefit. There will be cocktails, music and a raffle. So what makes this benefit different? It will be period-themed.
The third annual Go With the Flow benefit will culminate a weeklong menstrual product drive, where Syd’s Hair Shop, Steel String Brewery, The Root Cellar, Carrboro Community Acupuncture and Carlisle and Linny Vintage Jewelry are accepting tampons, pads and menstrual cups.
The drive will benefit the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, UNC Horizons Program, Freedom House Recovery Center, Carolina Cupboard Community Food Pantry and CWS Giving Tree Food Pantry.
Allison De Marco, one of the organizers of the event, said she wants to communicate that these products are necessities. She said access to feminine hygiene products remains a global issue.
“It’s an even bigger issue globally than it is here in the U.S. because women have a lot less access and it’s still very stigmatized, whereas here I think it’s getting better,” she said.
De Marco said between 9,000 and 15,000 products were donated during the Go With the Flow Menstrual Product Drive and Benefit’s first two years.
Emma Hughson, the publicity chairperson for UNC’s chapter of PERIOD., an organization dedicated to promoting menstrual health through education, advocacy and service, said people often overlook the need to donate period products.
“A lot of people don’t think to donate them because you think that’s such a basic thing that’s being met,” she said.
The state of North Carolina taxes feminine hygiene products as luxury items.
Tricia Mesigian, the other event organizer, said the drive and benefit may encourage North Carolinians to fight against the bill.
“Not unlike a lot of legislation in North Carolina, the majority of people when they learn about certain taxes and rules and restrictions, they don’t make any sense to anybody and the more you can shed light on ludicrous things, that the more people can know about them and fight against it,” she said.
The owner of Steel String, Andrew Scharfenberg, reiterated this idea.
“It’s not something that people are aware of day-to-day, but when you tell them, ‘Oh, they’re taxed differently,’ they’re going to take that to heart and maybe do something about it,” he said.
Kim Calandra, the founder of Carrboro Community Acupuncture, said period products have been expensive for her and she knows that for many women it is difficult to afford them. She said this prompted her to make her clinic a donation site.
“I’ve heard of friends using cotton balls, having to be resourceful in various creative ways because they weren’t able to afford pads or tampons, and I’ve just always strongly been committed to women’s issues and creating equality for women,” she said.
Gricelidy Marrero and Anna MacDonald of the IFC said in an email the event is important because it calls attention to an issue that is often a gap in services. They said IFC serves over 1,700 households, and these products will be available to any household that needs them.
Calandra said events like Go With the Flow start a dialogue because there are probably a lot of people in the community that may not consider menstrual products necessary, especially those who don’t need them.
“Putting a voice to this issue, I think it’s important in order for people to understand that this is something that all women go through, and it’s very necessary in order for women to feel comfortable in their clothes and in their bodies out in society,” she said.
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