Period product donations make a difference in many lives

The choice between period products and a pizza day at school started Renelle Robinson on a mission to help the community.

PAD Patrol took shape after Robinson’s interaction with a client who faced that decision five years ago. She and her team have been collecting pads, tampons, diva cups and other menstrual products ever since.

“The experience left me a little angry and puzzled because this is something that many face monthly, it’s a regular thing that they have to deal with,” said Robinson. “Can you imagine not having the necessary products?”

Pad Patrol is funded through the Reaching Home program at CDSSAB.

“All I have to do is give a shout out when I’m running low, and I always get great receptions and donations,” she said.

It's also grown through a partnership with the United Way, which runs the local Tampon Tuesday donation drive held every March.

Jennifer Gorman, the United Way North East Ontario regional resource manager, and Jennifer Byrnes who was representing Pad Patrol for Robinson, were at Full Beard Brewing earlier this week collecting donations and celebrating women in the community.

“These products are among the least donated, and most requested products at food banks,” said Gorman.

Period product prices were a concern for one in seven Canadians during the pandemic, and one in four Canadians have had to choose between buying food or period products, according to the United Way.

“Nobody should have to choose between feeding their family and buying menstrual products, yet far too many individuals do,” said Gorman.

She said the issue is even starker in remote communities.

“We know that up north, things cost even more,” said Gorman. “Just the cost of delivery to get those products up the coast, and those prices and inflation can triple to what they are down south.”

The first Tampon Tuesday event in Timmins was held in March 2020. Gorman said the pandemic really slowed the momentum they’d built around the event.

“We had so much energy and ideas going forward, but it all sort of stalled for a while,” said Gorman. “But we’re working on it now and hopefully we can get things moving again.”

The event collected over 3,000 individual pieces last year and they were aiming to beat that number this year.

While Robinson was not at Tuesday's event — she was in Moosonee at the time — she says PAD Patrol's work is needed. She’s worked with the First Nation communities to make sure everyone who needs products can get them.

“There’s just no room for anything else sometimes,” said Robinson. “We have to pay for something that we were born with and didn’t have a choice about.”

Her work with the CDSSAB and PAD Patrol have tied together in that regard.

“When we’re sending stuff up to these communities, whenever there’s room, we’ll fill the boxes with whatever stock we have to send,” said Robinson. “We just kind of stuff it in and make sure of the shipping as we can.”

Donations, both monetary and products, are always welcome year-round and can be dropped off at the CDSSAB offices at 500 Algonquin Blvd. E., next to McDonald's.

More information on how to donate or help out is also available on the Pad Patrol Facebook page.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,