Local HER Drive Raises Awareness of Period Poverty

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Photo Courtesy of Bethany Padilla

Organizers Bethany Padilla and Reaghan Mulligan pose with the donation boxes they decorated. The boxes were put around Capistrano Unified School District high schools and in front of Kathy’s House.

San Juan Hills Against Racism has taken part in a HER Drive, primarily organized by seniors, Bethany Padilla and Reaghan Mulligan, at San Clemente High School. The HER Drive was created by Alexa Mohsenzadeh and Jenica Baron in June of 2020. The drive started in the Chicago area, and now drives are being organized nationally to provide hygiene products to those who need them. 

They were able to raise $1300 for the Brave Space Alliance Trans Relief Fund, collecting about 800 bras, 4,635 menstrual care products, and 1,000 general hygiene items. These items were donated to Deborah’s Place, Center for Abused Women and Children, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.     

The founders launched their Host Your Own Drive program to mobilize others to host their own HER Drives, as well as guide volunteers through the process. “We found Her Drive’s Tik Tok over the first quarantine, and we loved the brand they made for themselves. After following them for a few months, Reaghan and I planned when and how we could make a drive happen for our community. After contacting them through their social media and application forms, we were approved,” said primary organizer and head liaison, Bethany Padilla. 

Since the program started in October of last year, there have been hundreds of drives all over the nation, including the one promoted by Mulligan, Padilla, and San Juan Hills Against Racism. The HER drive’s mission is to provide products to those who need them, and they specifically encourage donations to homeless shelters, women and children’s shelters, domestic violence survivor shelters and support networks, LGBTQ+ centers, and Black-led organizations.

Organizing the drive was of special importance to Padilla, as it has an added personal impact. “As a low-income individual in my community, basic necessities like menstrual products and hygiene products were not always accessible to my family. Within a community heavily populated with million dollar homes and luxury cars storming our roads, it is difficult to believe that people are struggling to basically provide for themselves amongst such great wealth. I wanted to bring up the conversation of period poverty on social media and within school campuses. Understanding socio-economic privileges and individual placement in a functioning community, it is very valuable to have young people be eager to participate in mutual aid efforts,” said Padilla. 

As a low-income individual in my community, basic necessities like menstrual products and hygiene products were not always accessible to my family. Within a community heavily populated with million dollar homes and luxury cars storming our roads, it is difficult to believe that people are struggling to basically provide for themselves amongst such great wealth”

— Bethany Padilla

Students plan to donate all items to Kathy’s House, which is a local shelter that helps support female survivors of abusive relationships and lives. “Being family friends with a core organizer of Kathy’s House, I have always appreciated the immense efforts he put towards protecting and aiding women, children, and men in our community. Having seen family friends deeply struggle with addiction and domestic abuse over the years, I have always understood the strength and perseverance it takes to be on any road of healing,” said Padilla. Padilla used these past experiences with Kathy’s house as motivation and reason to choose the organization as the primary place of donation for her drive.  

Donation boxes, which are located in Spanish teacher Marie Finman’s room, and fliers have been distributed across campus in order to spread the word about the drive and encourage students to donate. Padilla and Mulligan decided to pair the drive with CUSDAgainstRacism, and have found it to be very valuable. 

Padilla herself is a co-lead of San Clemente High school Against Racism, and has seen the value in bringing up intersectional issues to the community. “Having support from every task force has created a great network of support for us as drive coordinators, but also creates a statement in our community that we as young people are here for and are acting out for those lesser circumstances than ourselves,” said Padilla. 

The project so far has been very inspiring to both Padilla and Mulligan, as they have seen the community come together to support the HER drive through their donations. They look forward to more community bonding and donations throughout the end of the HER drive, which is September 21. The success they have seen is gratifying considering the communication challenges they faced. 

Since the brunt of the work in organizing the drive was taking place during the pandemic, outreach had to be modified, and became a difficult task to manage. Fortunately, Mulligan and Padilla received a lot of support from students and the community in their execution of the drive. At San Juan Hills, drop off boxes and fliers have been made available for distribution. NHS hours have also been offered to those who want to donate, as an added incentive for people to participate in the project.