Throughout winter people are constantly reminded about the plight of the homeless, but it doesn’t end when the weather warms up. For those in need, half of whom are single mothers with kids, there are plenty of perennial issues that must be overcome. One in particular is the need for health and hygiene products.
The Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness AmeriCorps Program tackled this problem with the 2017 Michigan Health and Hygiene Donation Drive for the Homeless where they collected more than 86,000 health and hygiene items. Of those, Southeast Michigan, including Highland Park, Lathrup Village, Troy, Pontiac Ann Arbor and Monroe, donated more than 24,000.
Across the state donations went to historically civic-minded institutions such as emergency shelter providers, domestic violence shelters, churches, and other community nonprofits that look after these too often invisible people.
Many may be quick to point out this does little to fix homelessness, and while that is true, it does make life easier for those already struggling with it.
“Donation drives allow the average person to be engaged in a meaningful way – in providing appropriate items that often are not covered through grants or other types of funding sources,” says Eric Hufnagel, executive director of Michigan’s Coalition Against Homelessness.
The items were collected between April 24 and May 5. They included menstruation hygiene products and sexual health products. While there was no requirement for donations, menstruation hygiene was emphasized.
This emphasis was paired with education on homelessness and menstruation, in an attempt to eliminate a stigma of menstruation and homelessness.
Much of this was made possible by LOLA, which manufactures and sells organic menstrual products and donated more than 35,000 tampons. This donation was made possible through a partnership with Support The Girls, an international nonprofit which collects and distributes bras and menstrual-hygiene products to women, girls, and trans people in need.
The drop off locations were designated and coordinated across the state as local drives. The collections were done by facilitator in the communities where the products are needed.
It may be a harsh truth, but homelessness will not end any time soon, and summer will certainly bring its own struggles, but a few basic issues won’t add to the problems for many in need.
Important partners of this project include AmeriCorps, Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, Support The Girls, its local affiliate Support the Girls – Detroit, and the Office of State Representative Tom Cochran.