When Melissa Turner started collecting donations of feminine hygiene products three years ago, she did not realize how many women in need she would end up helping. That is why she continued the project last Spring and is set for the third annual “Time of the Month” drive this Saturday, April 1.
In 2015, Turner came across a Facebook post about volunteers collecting such items to distribute in their community and she knew it was something that should be done in her hometown.
She felt compelled to do something to help women who cannot afford something so essential, yet costly.
“I grew up with very little, so it is important for me to be able to give back,” she said.
She tested out her project that first year by telling all of her friends about it, packing the trunk of her car with plastic totes, and heading to a park with her two young children. After filling six large totes with boxes of tampons, sanitary pads, new underwear, and other essential items, she knew she was onto something.
Last year, the project grew because her idea spread and she had a central location.
Friends started collecting donations year-round which Melissa collected and stored.
“It absolutely blew up,” Turner said. “I added purses and received 85 high quality purses. I still wanted to focus on feminine products, so I saved the purses for Christmas and filled them with new underwear, socks, a toothbrush, deodorant, and tea. I had two couches and a table full of totes with donations.”
In 2015, Turner made connections with the Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society (ACAWS) who distributed the donations and has since networked with other facilities to share her donations throughout the community.
“It has really opened my eyes to the need right in our little town,” she said. “It is so easy to give back and I want to be able to help (women in transition).”
Last year she opened the doors of the Fresh Steps Ability House on Gertrude Street for four hours of drop-offs.
“People came in to visit or just drop off donations,” she said. “I was so emotional. Everyone who gave were so amazing. It was like a dream come true. I’m hoping for the same thing this year.”
Turner will be at the Ability House with her children helping again this Saturday because she feels it is important for them to be part of worthy causes in which they can participate together as a family.
“I hope they follow in my footsteps,” Turner said.
The “Time of the Month” drive runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4457 Gertrude St., beside Pot Luck Ceramics. All donations of feminine hygiene items, purses, new underwear, and any purse fillers are welcome.