LANSING, Mich. — The average woman in the U.S. will spend about $6,000 on feminine hygiene products over her lifetime.
Michigan State University students Carolyn Zichichi and Aghdas Movassaghi are trying to ease the financial burden of securing these products as well as bras and underwear for Lansing women in need.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 22,” said Zichichi. “Through my treatment I underwent a couple surgeries, so I had a bunch of bras that didn’t fit anymore and they just kind of collected up in the back of my drawer.”
Before moving to East Lansing, Zichichi had volunteered with the Detroit chapter of the international organization I Support the Girls.
After telling her friend Aghdas Movassaghi about the non-profit, the two decided to start a mid-Michigan chapter and began gathering women’s essentials like underwear, bras, and feminine hygiene products, all things Movassaghi says some women take for granted.
Since 2005, the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing has had a personal needs closet that provides pads and tampons to homeless or low-income women. Director Melina Brann says for the women who receive the items, it’s more than just a donation.
“The need for homeless women to have personal hygiene products just creates a level of dignity that sometimes they’re not receiving,” Brann said.
Tampons are not considered a medical necessity, which makes them eligible to be taxed at 6% by the state. Michigan representatives reintroduced legislation to exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales tax earlier this month. Twenty other states have already eliminated what’s often referred to as “the tampon tax.”
Zichichi and Movassaghi will be collecting pads, tampons, gently used bras and unopened packages of underwear until mid-March. Donations can be dropped off directly to the duo from noon to 1 p.m. in parking lot 79 outside Spartan Stadium. All items will be donated to local charity groups.
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