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'The demand is quite high': Sudbury Women's Centre needs donations of menstrual products

Other toiletries such as full-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner also needed
Sudbury Women's Centre Giulia Carpenter shows off some of the donations of menstrual products the centre has already received. (Heidi Ulrichsen/

Every week, between 150 and 200 women access the services at the Sudbury Women's Centre.

Many of them are going through a difficult time in their lives. Clients include (but are not limited to) women living at the Genevra House or Cedar Place shelters, homeless women and sex workers.

Each Wednesday night, the Sudbury Women's Centre puts on its Sisters Offering Support (SOS) drop-in program.

On SOS night, women and their children are offered a safe and welcoming environment where they can enjoy themselves and socialize while participating in different activities.

They also can choose up to 20 items free of cost from the agency's My Sister's Closet used clothing program.

SOS participants are also given toiletry bags, which include sample sizes of items such as menstrual products, shampoo, conditioner and soap.

But quite often, clients request full-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, or more than just a couple pads or tampons (which, as women know, is maybe enough for half a day during your heaviest flow).

That's why the Sudbury Women's Centre put a call out on its Facebook page for full-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner and packages of menstrual products such as pads, tampons or diva cups.

Packages of incontinence products (both pads and briefs) are also in demand. 

Any brand of the aforementioned products will be welcomed, but the agency requests only unopened packages for hygiene purposes.

“The demand is quite high,” said Sudbury Women's Centre executive director Giulia Carpenter. 

“We have 150 to 200 women a week that access the centre. We're all women, we all go through our cycles. It's a constant thing - 'Do you have any pads?' So we'll provide them whenever they ask for them.”

Menstrual products are expensive, and they're a necessity for most women, Carpenter said.

“It's something that you can't go without,” she said. “That is a necessity that you have to buy, and you can't get around it. So we try to provide that necessity for them, and that's why the need is so high.”

She said the Sudbury Women's Centre actually offered workshops on making reuseable cloth pads in the past.

While reuseable pads might work for some, if you don't have a lot of access to laundry machines, the disposable products are best.

By the way, Sudbury Women's Centre isn't the only agency collecting menstrual products for needy women right now.

United Way Centraide North East Ontario is holding an event called Tampon Tuesday at Kuppajos Espresso Bar from 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 5. Admission is a box of products or a cash donation. 

Carpenter said the Sudbury Women's Centre also sometimes receives requests for full-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

The small bottles people collect from hotels and then donate to the agency are only good for one or two washes, and that's an issue if you're caring for children as well as yourself.

If you'd like to donate to the Sudbury Women's Centre, the agency is located at 324 Elm St. West, and is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed 12-1 p.m.), Wednesdays from 1 to 8:30 p.m. (closed 5-6 p.m.), and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Sudbury Women's Centre also holds its International Women's Day fundraising gala starting at 6 p.m. March 8 at the Caruso Club. Tickets cost $75 each. Phone 705-673-1916.

Learn more about the Sudbury Women's Centre on its website or Facebook page.

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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