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MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Drive seeking hygiene items for homeless

Feminine products a big need

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    Local attorney Sarah Skow in her office in downtown Toledo. Skow organized a feminine hygiene product drive to benefit local homeless girls and women.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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CTY-HYGIENExx

Local attorney Sarah Skow in her office in downtown Toledo. Skow organized a feminine hygiene product drive to benefit local homeless girls and women.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Sarah Skow has been asked to donate it all: food, clothing, purses, suitcases, toiletries.

Never, though, was she asked for feminine hygiene products.

Earlier this year, she read an article about difficulties homeless women face when menstruating. Then she read another and yet another.

“I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, why haven’t I heard or thought about this before?’ It kind of stuck with me after that first article, and when I saw a more recent one, I thought, ‘You know, I know some pretty great women, and Tent City is coming up. Maybe we’ll try to get some products to donate,’ ” said Ms. Skow, 35, an attorney at Spengler Nathanson.

She took her idea to Facebook, asking those in her circle to donate pads, tampons, and liners at a couple drop-off locations.

Quickly, the idea spread. Women were asking their friends to get involved, others stepped up to create additional drop-off sites, and the idea exploded. Soon, there were pictures on social media of shopping carts filled with feminine hygiene products, packages were being shipped to Ms. Skow's office, and drop-off sites were full.

“It's really about empowering and taking care of each other,” Ms. Skow said. “I don’t mean that in a schmaltzy way.

“It’s a small thing that a lot of people can do that will hopefully make a difference for girls and women in our community.”

“Feminine hygiene products are one of our biggest needs,” said Renee Palacios, director of Family House.

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Mrs. Palacios said girls and women have come to the shelter, which currently houses 36 families, with infections requiring hospitalization caused by not using the appropriate hygiene products.

“It’s always a big need. You can’t buy them with food stamps and it’s kind of embarrassing,” Mrs. Palacios said. “I can’t get my husband to buy a box of tampons to save my life.”

Since the donation drive started, Ms. Skow has been contacted by people in Wood County and other communities who want to do something similar to benefit the girls and women there.

“It’s speaking to people,” Ms. Skow said. “It’s raised a discussion and dialogue from a lot of women and men who hadn’t considered this issue themselves before.”

Ms. Skow said she would like to see a feminine hygiene drive continue because the need is constant, unlike a coat or hat drive in wintertime.

“Sarah saw a need and was one of those who stood up. That’s how cool this community is,” said Ken Leslie of 1Matters, a homeless advocacy and assistance organization that sponsors the annual Tent City homelessness awareness and assistance event to begin on Friday. “It’s a really, really innovative idea to solve a problem that nobody ever recognizes is a problem.”

The donation drive continues until Thursday with drop-off locations throughout Toledo and in the Sylvania and Perrysburg areas.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.

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