It is a safe bet that when asked to picture a homeless person living in our community, most people will not be imagining the face of a woman. The truth is that women account for roughly 30% of the homeless population across the nation today according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness’s 2019 report, with women and families being among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population.
Living as a woman without sustainable housing poses many challenges, specifically finding access to free or affordable menstrual hygiene products. Many of these women are faced with the financial burden of choosing between purchasing necessary health care items or their next meal. Tough choices like these force many homeless women to adapt, often using toilet paper or ripped pieces of cloth instead of sanitary napkins causing a great risk of infection, not to mention creating negative self-body imaging.
Iowa, like 32 other states, imposes a tax on feminine hygiene products and because they have been deemed as unnecessary luxury items women in need are denied the ability to purchase these items with any form of government assistance. Access is often further complicated due lack of funding to local shelters as well as societal stigmas, leaving women too ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
7UPforHope, a Leadership Siouxland group, has partnered with The Warming Shelter for what they hope will be one of the biggest and most eye opening campaigns in Sioux City’s history. After speaking with Lindsay Landrum, Director of The Warming Shelter, it was determined that some of the most needed and least donated item to the shelter are feminine hygiene products like tampons, maxi pads, and panty liners; which each female guest staying at The Warming Shelter has an urgent need for every month. The group developed the Siouxland Dignity Drive in an effort to alleviate the burden of this constant need.
Siouxland Dignity Drive will be placing donation boxes at local business beginning in March and collecting items through April. In addition to the much needed tampons, maxi pads, and panty liners; the boxes will also serve as collection spots for both men’s and women’s socks and underwear. The group asks that any donations made are in new, unopened condition. When the drive is complete, all donations will be taken to The Warming Shelter to be distributed to their guests as needed. This is just the beginning. The ultimate goal of the drive is to raise awareness and educate the public. The group hopes that this is the first of many Siouxland Dignity Drives and that it becomes an annual event.
If you are a local business interested in hosting a donation box, interested in learning more about the drive, or for a full list of donation drop box locations; visit Facebook at Siouxland Dignity Drive.
Look for Siouxland Dignity Drive Drop Boxes at:
- Chesterman Company
- Sergeant Bluff Eye Care
- Casey’s General Store, Sloan, IA
- Wells Enterprises, LeMars, IA
- Shear Beauty Salon
- KW Siouxland