Two sisters preparing for a Sparkle Peach delivery in November 2020.

I don’t know one female on the planet who enjoys having a period. If we are lucky, our bodies will be kind and predictable.

It’s hard enough to deal with a menstrual cycle when you are prepared, and many of us can remember being caught off guard a time or two. Now imagine how stressful it would be if every month was like that. What if you knew your cycle was coming and had no supplies or any way to get them? Many women find themselves in such a situation. Thankfully, some local organizations are trying to remedy that.

Two women with the volunteer spirit saw a need in our community and are trying their best to improve the lives of others. Sparkle Peach Inc., and A Hand Up. Not A Hand Out., are both run by women who were inspired while volunteering with other organizations.

After volunteering at the local food bank a few years ago, Ann Irvin felt inspired to start Sparkle Peach Inc., an organization dedicated to providing feminine hygiene products to those in need. Like food and utilities, these items are a major necessity, but they are often overlooked. Other organizations may offer the products, but supplies are limited.

“Typically, when people hear about the services of Sparkle Peach, they are excited,” Irvin said. “Some were unaware that period poverty even existed, others surprised the feminine hygiene products were provided free of charge. Many of the local organizations say their clients come in requesting the bags with the pretty colors. I chose the satin bags with various colors, because I wanted individuals to feel pretty and confident during their menstrual cycle, so I was very pleased to hear this feedback.”

Irvin estimated more than 75 Sparkle Peach packs are given out per month.

“Since local organizations are starting to reopen, I project numbers will increase,” she said. “We continue to promote via social media and by word of mouth to let more people know that Sparkle Peach is here to help in times of need.”

In addition to providing monthly supplies, Sparkle Peach partners with local organizations to provide educational resources to address feminine health and hygiene. If other resources are needed, individuals are directed to organizations that specialize in those needs.

“Sparkle Peach is not only about providing feminine hygiene products,” Irvin said. “We want women and young girls to be educated on the importance of self-care and to feel empowered in their bodies. The goal is to help these individuals be confident and successful in their future endeavors.”

Sparkle Peach will host future workshops to help individuals learn what to expect during their menstrual cycle and the importance of feminine hygiene.

Another local effort to assist women in need was started by Regina Overman after volunteering with a group that donates extra food to people outside the Open Door Food Kitchen.

“One Sunday a young woman with a new baby came and got food from us,” Overman said. “After she left, I asked if anyone knew where they lived. Someone said they believed they lived down by the river. I knew that after you have a baby you absolutely need menstrual pads, and I was troubled about how she was getting these very necessary items. I was so troubled in fact that the thought kept me awake at night and was on my mind constantly. Finally, I came to the conclusion I needed to do something to help, thus ‘A Hand Up. Not A Hand Out.,’ was born.”

On average, A Hand Up. Not a Hand Out., helps about a dozen women each month. Overman said it’s hard to judge how many people have been helped, because she’s not always aware of who is getting supplies. She drops items off to others who then in turn get them to those who need them. She has a few people who help by having supplies on hand to give to those who need them, and many people make donations of products or occasionally cash. The response from the community has been positive.

“Those who receive help are always grateful, and those willing to help/donate always think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said. “Most say they wished they’d thought of this a long time ago. As of right now I am a small ‘project’ born from a desire to help others. Someday I hope to have a nonprofit and grow my project into a power for doing good, not only in St. Joseph, but the surrounding area.”

Overman has some ideas to implement in the next couple of months, and the best way to know what is happening is to follow the Facebook page. Those in need of supplies can contact her through Facebook or email.

If you would like to get involved with these organizations, either by volunteering or making a donation, check out their Facebook pages.

Sparkle Peach welcomes volunteers to help with fundraisers, events, passing out flyers and filling Sparkle Peach packs. A Hand Up. Not A Hand Out., needs volunteers for pickup locations and is looking for potential businesses near Downtown, the South Side or on the bus route. Overman will supply the necessary items. You’ll just need a small place to store a few things.

To donate:

Sparkle Peach Inc.: Visit www.sparklepeach.com. Click the support tab and scroll to “Make a Donation” or send a message through Facebook at Sparkle Peach Inc.

A Hand Up. Not A Hand Out.: Email oreginal58@gmail.com to arrange to donate items. Cash donations can be made through Venmo or CashApp.

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