Red Tide tampon drive set to meet student needs

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye

Shae Slaughter

It’s no secret that the price of tuition, books, rent and other fees can add up for college students. Some students have a harder time than others affording all of these things while also being able to purchase basic necessities. To help provide these important items to students, Grand Valley State University started the Red Tide tampon drive, a program that looks to fundraise toiletries and personal hygiene products for students who might not be able to easily attain them otherwise.

While GVSU has sponsored a student food pantry known as Replenish since 2009, the Red Tide tampon drive is a program new to the university. The concept was thought of by Jennifer Palm, assistant to The Graduate School (TGS).

“The Red Tide tampon drive is an idea I came up with last year when we came up with the campus food drive,” she said. “I made it a personal goal to collect feminine hygiene items.”

Collecting these items not only addresses the need for them across campus, but also helps to tackle the taboo subject of feminine hygiene.

“There’s such a stigma around tampons and pads,” Palm said. “We hide them in our purses and pockets and we hope no one sees them and it’s kind of silly. They’re a shared experience for a lot of women.”

While Replenish also collects hygiene products, Palm wanted to create a program that specializes in these items only because they are often forgotten in favor of food donations. However, these toiletries are in high demand.

“It really is important, students need dish soap, they need toilet paper, they need tampons, sometimes it’s hard to put that word out there so why don’t we put that word out there and people can deal with it,” Palm said.

TGS was also responsible for the beginning of another initiative called Students Use Donated Soaps, or SUDS. SUDS is the idea of Jordyn Lawton, a graduate assistant in TGS, who also wanted to help advertise the necessity of hygiene product donation.

“We were going with a theme this year and were going to do more toiletries and things you wouldn’t really think of,” Lawton said. “Buying the toothpaste, the toilet paper, it really adds up.”

The Red Tide tampon drive is running through the full month of October while the campus food drive ends Friday, Oct. 14. Donations can be dropped off either at the food pantry in Kirkhof Center Room 0074 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday or 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Outside of those hours, the Women’s Center in Kirkhof Center Room 1201 will accept donations.

For donations specific to the Red Tide tampon drive or SUDS Palm will also be accepting donations at TGS in Room 318C in the DeVos Center.

“This year we’ve already exceeded what I collected last year,” Palm said.

Both SUDS and the Red Tide tampon drive’s donations will be distributed with the help of Replenish to students who are in need. Those in need may visit the pantry and fill up a bag twice a month after filling out a short form.

“If you have leftover (unused) items, don’t feel like you need to go out and buy them,” Lawton said. “But even going to the dollar store, every little bit counts.”