The Gift of Dignity: Hygiene products as necessity, not luxury
At HOPE House we believe no one should ever have to choose between food and hygiene items. That is why, when our community members visit our points-based, choice-based Food Market, they’re given separate points for both, so they don’t have to make the choice. Dignity is one of our three core values and hygiene items are extraordinarily important in contributing to the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. In our Food Market one can access laundry soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, razors, shampoo and conditioner, condoms, adult absorbent underwear, and menstrual items…ALMOST all the time.
As is the norm for most organizations serving people who live in poverty, hygiene items are often the last thing on donors’ minds.
We don’t think of the reality of women in poverty and what happens each month when they get their periods. We don’t consider the health risks of using hand made menstrual products for women who can’t afford to buy them. We don’t consider that many elders or people with disabilities are dealing with incontinence and live on a limited income that doesn’t support the cost of adult absorbency products.
Food and clothing, as basic necessities, are our primary in-kind donations (and always appreciated), but we depend on donations of hygiene products primarily from a charitable agency outside of Guelph. Within Guelph our sources are few, and, most recently, we are given hygiene products by Dollarama. Smitten Apparel hosts Tampon Tuesday drives and offers us some of what they’re able to collect. The majority of our adult absorbent underwear comes from local hospices.
In other words, it trickles in, and we’re often just limping by.
We love our donors and the city of Guelph. We know the incredible levels of creativity and passion the people of this city hold. If your organization, school, family, or business is looking for a meaningful way to give back to the community, or considering a drive of some sort this holiday season, we encourage you to think of the marginalized within the marginalized – those who are disabled, elderly, women – and think outside and about the box…by donating a box of tampons, pads, or adult absorbent products. Preserving the dignity of our most vulnerable community members is truly a gift that keeps on giving; those who feel a sense of dignity and worth are those who can dream and better take action to realize their dreams.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We look forward to growing in community with you.
Pike, D. (2016). The challenge of living with your period and in poverty. The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved from https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/6375408-pike-the-challenge-of-living-with-your-period-and-in-poverty/
Mathieu, E. (2017). Periods an extra hardship for homeless women. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/01/23/periods-an-extra-hardship-for-homeless-women.html
N/A (2012). Diapers: They’re not just for babies. National Diaper Bank Network. Retrieved from https://diaperbanknetwork.wordpress.com/tag/urinary-incontinence/