Diamonds in the Rough Women's Transitional Ministries is hosting a feminine hygiene and toiletry drive, asking for donations of unused, unopened items to help girls and women in need.
"Diamonds in the Rough has an ear to the ground, and we try to provide services that are in line with the needs of the community," said Esther Dixon, founder and executive director of Diamonds in the Rough. "And we know that feminine hygiene products and toiletries are a necessity for women and girls, and it's a desperate need for them to have."
The organization is looking for travel-size toiletry items, including shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, wash clothes, facial tissues, hand sanitizer, hair brushes, combs, socks and lotion.
The items will then be placed into "care kits," which will be given out at events, churches and other organizations as well as kept on hand for those in need, Dixon said. The kits will include toiletry items along with a business card with contact information for Diamonds in the Rough, for those in need of their services.
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Items can be dropped off at the Garland County Library, where a donation box has been set out. The drive will collect items from the library through July 31, but Dixon said any donations made after that date will still be accepted year-round by contacting Diamonds in the Rough at 501-276-2121.
"Women and girls, they need these toiletry items and feminine hygiene products monthly," she said. "It's a $25 expense at the minimum for just the feminine hygiene products. We have women in the community that are either low-income, homeless, jobless and living in poverty. So, it's something that they're in desperate need of assistance programs for."
The organization has a goal of raising 200 care kits by the end of the month. With still three weeks to go, Dixon said she is confident they will reach it.
"This was something that we know that there was a need for," she said. "So, we just thought, 'Let's do this drive.' And, we're gonna try to make it an annual drive because it's something that's not gonna go away. It's something that's gonna be a need."
While there are many assistance programs for other issues, such as SNAP for buying food, WIC for buying baby formula and HUD for housing assistance, there are no assistance programs for women and girls who are searching for feminine hygiene products, Dixon said.
"Young girls that are school-age, they may be able to get feminine hygiene products from the school, but during the summer months, they don't have access to that," Dixon said.
"So, this may affect women and girls if they don't have these products, it may affect them not being able to go to school, not being able to go to work, or extracurricular activities. Because if you don't have these items, they're afraid to go out because they don't have the necessities for them during that monthly time," she said.
"It's really a health issue. It's called hygiene poverty, when you don't have the bare essentials to take care of your hygiene because of your income. So, it's a national epidemic. ... If you don't have the adequate or proper hygiene products, if you don't have enough, you could be at risk of having an infection. Toxic shock syndrome, that's due to not having enough products. And if you don't utilize them properly, then you can have an infection that could be deadly."