Chicago teen raises over $10,000 to give menstrual kits to homeless women
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it until my cheeks are cherry red: The youth will save the world. Chicago teen Lily Alter has raised over $10,000 for FlowKits filled with feminine care products that she hands out to homeless girls and women. At 15 years old, Alter is already out here being a better human being than most.
The idea was birthed with a freshman English assignment from her teacher, Lynn Gilbertson, who asked the students to write mock grant proposals. Gilbertson told The Chicago Tribune she gives the assignment every year so 14 year olds start to think about “social issues they care about and start to brainstorm possible solutions to it in order to see that they have a lot more ideas and power than they think they do at 14 years old.” Alter was so passionate about helping homeless girls and women get through their menstrual cycles that she set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,500 before she even completed the assignment.
Initially, the FlowKits included 14 tampons, pads, panty liners, and sanitary wipes, with a menstrual health pamphlet as well. Since its launch in April, she has distributed 400 kits and has increased her goal to $12,000 since she’s already surpassed her $10,000 goal. Due to the outpouring of support from donors, she’s also been able to add 20 bladder pads to each kit.
“I read once about how it’s really hard to be on your period when you’re homeless,” Alter told The Chicago Tribune. “Tampons aren’t like condoms, where people give them out free at progressive stores or in sex-ed classes. Menstrual supplies are more necessary, but you can’t get them for free.”
Alter’s right. Despite feminine care products being the most requested items at shelters and food pantries, people rarely donate them. Think of how much money you spend monthly on your menstrual cycle, the inconveniences, the pain. Now imagine being on your period while homeless without any pads, tampons, or pantyliners. That’s enough to make anyone with feminine toiletries to spare carry a few extra in their purse to give to a homeless girl or woman they see.
“The first young girl I gave a kit to was at the shelter at my church,” Alter told The Chicago Tribune. “She was like 12 or 13, and she was with her mom. I approached them both and gave her a kit, and they were both super polite. The girl hugged me, and I was so happy. I felt like, ‘Man. I’m exactly like her. I was like her two years ago, and I’m pretty much just like her now.”
According to The Tribune, the good samaritan teenager partners with Housing Forward and Breakthrough Urban Ministries to distribute the kits to girls and women in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.
Lily Alter, you deserve all the nice things, girl. Keep on being a reminder that we can all do more.