When Sarah Harris called Henley Middle School last year to inquire about their period product supply, she was told they were out.
She quickly gathered donations, both from herself and her neighborhood Facebook group, and provided the school with dozens of boxes of pads and tampons.
Harris didn’t want a repeat of what happened last year, but was pleased to find out that Henley was well stocked with products at the start of the school year. She asked other parents she knew from different schools and learned that many were often out.
“It’s been an issue to get them stocked,” said Phil Giaramita, a spokesperson for the county schools. The district does not have a system to monitor period products, instead relying on students to notify the office when they run out.
Vandalism has also been a contributing factor to the empty dispensers, which has been a problem for some time, Giaramita said. The district is working on a process to ensure the products remain stocked at all times and, as of Monday, all the girls bathrooms in the district were fully stocked, he added.
Still, the news that children were unable to access period products at school concerned Harris, so at the start of the school year, she went into overdrive. She kickstarted a drive to raise money, and physical donations, for students in the county school system.
Harris raised $1,100 and several boxes of pads and tampons within the first days of the drive.
Harris plans on delivering a large box to each of the middle and high schools in the county. If her supplies allow, Harris hopes to donate additional boxes to elementary schools.
“When I expressed my gratitude for the support this drive received on Twitter, I was asked if, in the future, the donations would be extended to elementary schools, too. I figured why not? and why not now?” said Harris.
The district will accept the donations, Giaramita said.
In 2020, Virginia passed a law that required schools who teach students in grades five through 12 to offer period products for free. A previous version of the law only extended the requirement of products to the nurses office.
Virginia is the fifth state to make pads and tampons in school available at no cost.
For more information on Harris’ drive, you can follow her on Twitter at @skh4102.