Her Needs Come First

Students Partner With Nonprofit

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Photo courtesy of Elif Sahin

Junior Hemani Goje poses in front of a classroom with a HerDrive donation box. Donation boxes like these are available for students in front of classrooms throughout the school, and the items will be donated to women’s shelters to provide hygienic support. “I really hope that we, the community of Cedar Park, donate and impact the betterment of the community, Goje said. “By giving resources to the women in shelters, I want to be able to empathize with them and support the often understocked shelters.”

Ruchi Sankolli, Reporter

Aiming to make lives better, juniors Hemani Goje, Arina Gart, Hailey Bowerman, Lindsey Lopez and Vista Ridge High School student Elif Sahin have partnered with HerDrive, a nonprofit organization that aims to collect feminine hygiene products to donate to BIPOC communities, to collect feminine hygiene products in a donation drive. 

“HerDrive was a nonprofit [organization] first founded by Alexa Zara to combat period poverty, but I brought it over to Cedar Park and our high school,” junior Arina Gart said. “I wanted to help the large homeless population in Austin, and this gave me a great opportunity to [do so]. We are a group of really interesting and outgoing girls, and it has been super fun to see the impact all over the US in the group message.”

The common cause and goal of this project brought the girls together to contribute. They want to work together to find a solution to this problem while also providing a way for students to have volunteer opportunities. 

“I wanted to be a part of this because I think it’s a very important cause that not many people talk about, or understand the necessity of these products for women,” junior Hailey Bowermon said. “I also believe [that it’s] a great way to give CPHS students opportunities for hours, while also being educated about the issue.”

Other contributing members want to be involved in the issue and find ways to make the change. Helping others and finding a way to combat the issue is a goal of the members as well. 

“I decided to be a part of HerDrive once I was informed that there is a public health issue with people having access to personal hygiene and menstrual products,” junior Lindsey Lopez said. “I then decided to figure out how I can help and be involved in taking steps towards a solution.” 

The main motivation for creating this project was the issue of limited access to such products, according to project lead Sahin. This is an ongoing issue in many states besides Texas, and these students hope to bring the first phase of change to Cedar Park. 

“Limited access to menstrual care products is a public health issue that disproportionately affects BIPOC [communities] who experience poverty and homelessness,” Sahin said. “This remains an ongoing issue with 35 states [that are] still taxing menstrual products. Access to menstrual care should be a basic human right, not a privilege.”

The partnership is being done through a donation drive, in which people can donate feminine products such as bras, pads, tampons and other care products. The drive began on April 24 and will continue until May 7. Additionally, several clubs have made this a service opportunity, from HOSA to the National Honor Society. 

“Elif and I contacted stores, decorated boxes and placed them and flyers in as many places as we could,” Gart said. “I also contacted clubs and wanted to make it a service opportunity to provide incentive for people to donate. I think it’s really important to gain those hours through important things, and I do believe HerDrive falls into that.” 

The drive aims to collect mainly feminine hygiene products to distribute to poor communities, however.  A full list of what to donate can be found here. 

According to HerDrive, all kinds of donations are available. Those who want to volunteer are encouraged to do so either through mail-in donations, Amazon Wishlist, etc. Additionally, people can also show support through Amazon Smile. Another way to get involved with this organization is through hosting a drive, which is what Cedar Park is doing now. 

Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, donation options are expanded to include contactless donation options. Those who wish to donate can sign up for contactless pickups at this link, which will be picked up anytime between April 24 to May 7. Students can also drop off items at one of the donation box locations, one of which is available in front of Mrs. Trueblood’s room in 5013. 

“Virtual students, or even adults, can just click a few buttons and describe how they would like us to pick up [the donations] and we will,” Gart said. 

The group hopes to have an impact on the community and a change for the better. According to Sahin, the products this drive will collect will go to local women and children’s shelters to give them access to such products.

“Our goal with this donation drive is to spark conversation about period poverty in Cedar Park, where this topic isn’t discussed nearly enough,” Sahin said. “All donations we collect will directly be donated to the Austin Shelter for Women and Children.”

Additionally, the girls hope to inspire students to contribute to this cause and help make big changes to the community. The girls also hope to spread support and love in the community by being a part of this drive. 

“I hope this drive becomes a frequent volunteer opportunity for students while also [being a big help] to the community,” Bowermon said. “I believe this will make students feel like they’ve made a big change in our community as it’s a very necessary drive for the less fortunate population in Austin.”

Additionally, the girls hope to spread love and support in the community by being a part of this. As such, they encourage students to contribute as much as possible to this cause. 

“Through this organization and donation drive, I hope to help provide hygiene products to people living in Austin who have a need we can fill,” Lopez said. “This will take a worry off their [backs] and hopefully provide a feeling of self-care, support, and love from their neighbors.” 

Most of all, the girls want to impact the betterment of the community. They want to empathize with the people and provide them with access to such materials to improve their lives. 

“I really hope that we, the community of Cedar Park, donate and impact the betterment of the community,” junior Hemani Goje said. “By giving resources to the women in shelters, I want to be able to empathize with them and support the often understocked shelters.”