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three middle schoolers smile for a photos
February 17, 2023

Little Cyclones Making A Big Difference

Feminine products are not something that most middle school students talk about daily. However, three Ames Middle School students are bringing attention to the topic out of concern for their fellow classmates. Elodie Biggs, Maggie Haggas, and Ella Grail, all 8th graders at AMS, were concerned not only about students having access to products, but also acknowledging that not all are able to purchase them. So Biggs, Haggas, and Grail started a feminine product drive for AMS students.

“I was talking to a friend one day and they were telling a story about not having any products with them,” said Biggs. “So, they had to ask a male teacher because they had no way of accessing anything. It created an awkward situation and I immediately thought, ‘how can we fix this?’” 

According to the Journal of Global Health Reports, a February 2022 report showed that 50 million people lack access to menstrual products and hygiene facilities in the United States alone. Of those 50 million, 16.9 million are living in poverty.

“We saw a need in our school and decided we wanted to help,” said Grail. “A lot of schools don’t have something like this and they should because these products should be free and accessible for everyone and aren’t.”

The students enlisted the help of Stephanie Schares, an ELP teacher at AMS. Schares worked through Principal Yonas Michael who encouraged them to make signs and recruit people to bring this idea to life. They made graphics, signs, a website titled The Pad Program, and began asking for donations. Their parents even helped the efforts by posting on their social media accounts. There is clearly a desire to both support these efforts and for AMS students to utilize products. 

“We’ve already been able to supply people what they need,” said Haggas. “When it is there, it is so much easier than having a quarter and the products are higher quality and there is more variety.”

For those who would like to donate, items can be dropped off to the office at AMS. Even with the great initial response, the need is still there. Biggs, Grail, and Haggas have a long-term goal to expand into other schools in the District, even reaching out to lawmakers to work on passing a law in Iowa that schools would be required to supply feminine products in their restrooms for free.

“I feel hopeful,” said Grail. “We can keep helping others if we keep getting donations.”