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University of Montana students start menstrual product drive

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Posted at 4:26 PM, Mar 12, 2023

MISSOULA - Five women from the University of Montana have taken it upon themselves to provide free, accessible menstrual resources for women in need.

For Women Missoula is a project started by five college students — Holly Sudol, Emmily Valencia, Samantha Boutte, Bella Spencer and Brooklyn Grubbs — aimed at helping women, specifically refugee women, access feminine products and healthcare information.

They are accepting donations of pads, tampons, and feminine and hygiene wipes at locations around Missoula.

The donated products will then be put together in kits for women. Soft Landing, a non-profit providing support for refugee and immigrant families in Missoula, has agreed to distribute the kits for the students.

Included in the kits will be a bi-lingual informational pamphlet on menstruation and feminine healthcare. This is meant to help these recourses be accessible to refugee and immigrant women.

Valencia's parents are both immigrants, and she remembers watching their own struggles in navigating the U.S. healthcare system.

“Since such a young age I was used to translating, and that gave me a scope of like health care and how inaccessible it is," she said. "I was like, wow, probably refugee women are probably not getting the education or the resources that they need, especially when it comes to menstruation.”

The women hope the drive will break down stigmas and barriers to receiving menstrual care and products.

"We want to break that barrier down," Valencia said. "Sometimes it can be taboo, and like tackle it and educate people more on it."

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An example of a donation box at locations around Missoula.

Menstruation can be a difficult process for any woman, so the students want to provide extra support.

“Everyone can use a little help whether that's information or free resources like it's helpful to have," Sudol noted. "If you don't have someone to guide you or you don't have a culture that supports, like menstruation, like a healthy look, review on it.”

The drive is part of the students' capstones for the Frankie Global Leadership Initiative at UM, a program they joined as freshmen.

It is meant to encourage students to become leaders in their local communities.

The women all have different majors and backgrounds, which makes their collaboration more meaningful.

“I think it's pretty cool to see everyone's strengths," Valencia said.

The program has positively impacted their college experience and allowed them to be the catalyst for change in their community.

“I think the program has like encouraged us to work with like, in an interdisciplinary way since we were freshmen, and so it's been cool to grow up in this group of people that like, want to solve problems around the world," Sudol told MTN. "And now that we get to actually go out into the community and solve those problems. It's rewarding for sure."

There are donation boxes at both Green Source locations in Missoula, Fact and Fiction Bookstore and Clyde Coffee.

They are accepting donations until the end of March. Besides products, the students are also accepting monetary donations through UM.

More information can be found on their Instagram.