KC Cares: I Support The Girls
After losing some weight, Dana Marlow went to her local boutique to get fitted for new bras. When she asked the saleswoman what she should do with her old bras, the saleswoman suggested that unhoused women in need of clothes could use them.
This specific need in unhoused populations hadn’t crossed Marlow’s mind before. On her way home from the boutique, she called a contact at her local shelter in D.C. who said that women experiencing homelessness often struggle to access menstrual hygiene products as well. Bras and hygiene products are the most requested but least donated items at most shelters.
Marlow posted this information to Facebook to spread awareness and request donations to deliver to the local shelter. In less than two weeks, Marlow received and packaged more than 7,000 products that she took to a homeless shelter in D.C.
Marlow’s efforts did not stop there. In March of 2019 she established the nonprofit I Support the Girls, an organization dedicated to helping girls and women experiencing homelessness to “stand tall with dignity” by providing them with essential items including bras, underwear, and menstrual hygiene products.
A few years ago, Lindsay Weiss had the same idea as Marlow. She held a month-long menstrual product and bra donation drive out of her own house and was ultimately able to donate products to two shelters and four schools. Weiss reached out to I Support the Girls on Instagram and soon became the leader for the Kansas City chapter. Today she is the KC affiliate director and works to collect and distribute products to eight business partners across the KC metro area.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed this mission and have made so many connections with some fabulous people doing great work,” Weiss says. “We’ve partnered with over 65 local organizations and delivered over 125,000 products and we continue to expand. We have eight fantastic business partners that serve as donation drop-off sites and help spread the word of what we do in the community.”
I Support the Girls recently donated to a client that previously wore a swimsuit instead of a bra under her clothes for a job interview.
“Can you imagine how much more comfortable she could have been if she had a properly fitting bra?” Weiss says. “I think menstrual equity is linked to so many other things: health, education, workforce development, and more. No one should have to miss school or work (or anything really) due to a lack of access to products. These products are basic human needs and everyone deserves the gift of dignity. When our basic human needs are met, we are much more likely to succeed and contribute to the greater good.”
During Pride month, the nonprofit partnered with Servaes Brewing Company and collected over 1,178 products. Donated products always go straight to a local organization that does direct services with anyone experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, rejection from family members for being LGBTQ+, or similar hardship. Monetary donations go to buying the products that are in high demand.
“I am very hopeful that, in the near future, we can see some real policy change from our elected officials to eliminate the tampon tax,” says Weiss. In Kansas and Missouri, folks who purchase menstrual products are subject to taxes that make these necessary items prohibitively expensive for some. According to PERIOD and The Action Network, folks in Missouri pay a 4.2% tax for every menstrual product purchased, netting the state six million dollars in revenue annually.
Weiss adds that as a long-term goal, I Support the Girls wants to ensure that “menstrual products are free and readily available at the Kansas and Missouri state and local prisons, and schools.”
If you’re interested in volunteering or contributing to the cause, message I Support the Girls on Facebook or Instagram. You can also check out isupporthegirls.org to sponsor a D.A.S.H. Kit for someone experiencing domestic violence, a Slash Kit for a transgender or nonbinary person, or a Flash Kit for someone going through menopause. Depending on the client, these kits will come with bras, binders, underwear, a three-month supply of menstrual products, and more.
And for our awesome local businesses and organizations: I Support the Girls is always open to creative partnerships that let them keep doing their good work!