"Throw an extra pack in your trolley if you're shopping," is the suggestion of 'Share The Dignity' Shero Nicole Wiffen as planning starts for the August Dignity Drive in the Manning and Great Lakes areas.
Nicole will work with 'Share the Dignity' NSW Queen, Susan Ballard to co-ordinate the Manning area Dignity Drive that aims to collect more than 500 donations of tampons, pads, liners, menstrual cups and incontinence pads.
The goal set for the region is high but Nicole and Susan are hopeful the community will help them to achieve it by the end of August.
Susan reveals there "is a huge need in the community" and reflects on her experience as a school teacher to illustrate the challenges many girls and women face who live in vulnerable family environments, or who are homeless.
"When I was a school teacher my office was next to the clinic and there were quite a few girls who obviously didn't have the money, or their parents didn't have the money, or use the money to get them pads," Susan said.
"When their period came they would come to me because they knew that I would help them out - they used to call me the 'pad lady'."
Susan's four-year involvement with 'Share the Dignity' is a choice founded in a deep commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable women in our community.
"I'm a real supporter of women. There is already enough inequality and this is something I can do something about, and it's also important to recognise that homelessness is a growing problem that is impacting women.
"I love the work of this charity because it has achievable goals, and really, in the long term we should be able to hit this problem on the head by making sanitary items reasonably priced, or accessible to vulnerable women. It's not an insurmountable problem if there is a will for change."
Nicole says it's important for the community to learn about the challenges many women face.
"Some people think they (sanitary items) are easy to afford but really, they are expensive to purchase, especially for women who have had to flee their homes. They usually don't have access to money, and paying for pads or tampons is not a priority when you are at that basic level of survival and have to think of food first.
"I could not imagine not having access to that sort of stuff. Supporting these women can be a big draw on the charities and so this is how we can help."
In the Manning area all donated items during the Dignity Drive will be shared between CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning, Samaritans, Manning Valley Neighbourhood Centre, the women's refuge and the teenage refuge.
"We need a mix of items but basically they are just so happy whenever we drop something off - they are ecstatic!" Susan said.
'Share the Dignity' boxes will be placed in the following Taree locations:
- Wiffen Property Agents, 32 Victoria Street.
- Australian Hearing, Taree Central Shopping Centre, Albert Street.
- Manning Support Services, 57 Albert Street.
- Braithwaite's Famil Dental, 92 Albert Street.
- Energize for Life Women's Fitness Studio, 130 Victoria Street.
- CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning, 32 Pulteney Street.
- Commonwealth Bank, Manning Street.
In Wingham, donations can be dropped to Dress Up, 56 Isabella Street, Back to Bare Laser Clinic at 22 Isabella Street, and the Commonwealth Bank in Bent Street. Donations can also be left at the Gloucester branch of the Commonwealth Bank, and in Harrington, donations can be left at Food Stop in Beach Street.
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