A new Moscow High School group dedicated to combating “period poverty and stigma” recently collected more than 4,400 feminine hygiene products to be delivered to Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and Family Promise of the Palouse.

Ellie Pimentel, a Moscow High junior, launched in October a MHS chapter of the youth-fueled global nonprofit, PERIOD: The Menstrual Movement, after reading about menstrual equity and issues with the tampon tax, in which tampons and other feminine hygiene products are subject to value-added tax or sales tax unlike the tax exemption status granted to other products considered basic necessities.

Pimentel said she thought PERIOD, which has volunteer chapters and partners in 49 states and in more than 50 countries according to period.org, sounded like the type of organization that would be popular at her high school.

“I think this is the sort of underlying issue with women’s rights that I think doesn’t get addressed as much just because the stigma associated with it, and so I thought it would be really important and meaningful to be able to bring that sort of thing out into the public in a way that would dispel stigma to some extent,” said Pimentel, president of the MHS chapter.

She said collecting donated period products for the two Palouse organizations was her chapter’s first big project. At the beginning of January, the chapter placed collection boxes at the high school, Moscow Food Co-op, the University of Idaho Women’s Center and Moscow Public Library.

Pimentel and about 10 other members of the chapter packaged and counted the feminine hygiene supplies Wednesday at MHS. She said 2,067 tampons, 1,518 pads, 809 liners and 12 cups were donated, for a total of 4,406 products.

“It’s much, much more than I expected to get,” Pimentel said in a text message.

Madeline Schab, a MHS junior and member of the chapter, was one of the students who helped package and count products Wednesday.

“I’ve never wanted to join something that’s, like, mundane and meaningless and this seems like it actually could make a difference,” Schab said of the chapter. “There’s a lot of women that don’t have access to these kinds of products. Menstrual prodcuts are taxed as a luxury, which is stupid in my opinion, and this seems like we’re making a step towards progress in that area.”

Janine Rivera, executive director at Family Promise of the Palouse in Moscow, said she is extremely grateful to receive the donations and that “every little bit helps.”

“Feminine hygiene products are a very much needed product in most homeless shelters,” Rivera said. “It’s something in terms of supply that tends to get overlooked when people think of donating to homeless shelters.”

Family Promise of the Palouse is a nonprofit organization that helps provide immediate shelter to homeless families while helping people achieve lasting independence, according to its website. Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse is a not-for-profit organization that offers supportive services to victims of crime and related community outreach and education, its website said.

“Period poverty is a big topic, so I’m really grateful that we have people in our schools, you know, these young people that are advocating on this,” Rivera said.

Pimentel said her chapter is looking into doing other projects.

PERIOD uses service, advocacy and education to accomplish its goals, according to its website.

Pimentel said donating feminine hygiene products is an example of service, petitioning representatives to take action on the tampon tax would be an example of advocacy and starting an educational program at a school would be an example of education.

She said she has been in talks with the PERIOD chapter at Washington State University to potentially start an educational event at Moscow Middle School and Lincoln Middle School in Pullman.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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