TRURO, NS — Going without essential supplies like soap, shampoo and menstrual products is a situation that more and more women are facing as the cost of living continues to rise.
“If you have to choose between $5 and $6 to buy a box of tampons or money for your child’s lunch, that’s not acceptable and should never happen,” said Michaela MacLachlan, executive director of the Lotus Center.
The women’s resource center had always given out pads and tampons, but years ago it started getting requests for soap, toothpaste and shampoo.
“Initially, we started getting the hotel soaps from people, which is great,” MacLachlan said. “At the same time, though, you need five or six to last. And so we said to ourselves: ‘It’s not working, we have to find something’. And when we put out a call for donations, the community kind of opened up.
They have started compiling personal care kits that women can request online (thelotuscentre.net/personal-care-items). Some ask for specific items they need, and on the form they can include a preferred name and do a no-contact pickup. Some women order not only for themselves, but for other women or children in their household.
Demand took off after the COVID hit.
“It got big, big fast,” MacLachlan said. “So we’re trying to find ways to offset the costs, because we really don’t get a lot of funding. It is a huge necessity. And the pandemic has really shown the struggle that women have had to face. »
They pitched the idea for businesses to host a donation basket after noticing it was a great conversation starter at events.
“What we found was that the same people were donating all the time, and that’s great, but five people can’t supply the whole town with body wash,” MacLachlan said. “So we were trying to come up with out-of-the-box ways to promote it and even let people know that we have this service.”
Hub Grub was the first company on board, hosting it in February. MacLachlan said the basket was full when she picked it up, with enough for five or six children.
Now the basket is at My Home Mercantile, also on Inglis Place. The company often participates in community projects, such as The Shoebox Project for Women, the Purse Project and initiatives for the homeless. They often advertise in their newsletter and customers traveling from places like Halifax and New Glasgow are known for their contribution.
Next to the cash register is a basket for donated supplies, and directly on the counter are information sheets about the Lotus Center and its collection of hygiene supplies. My Home employee Megan Johnson recalled a woman noticing the information and donating $10 because she had no supplies. She adds that other customers will often come back later with supplies.
“It’s something that our customer base knows very well, they’re very supportive and they’re certainly taking note of it and will bring things in and do whatever they can to make it happen, which is amazing.”
For their first Makers Market 2022 on April 16 on the second floor, the company asked for donations in lieu of table fees, raising around $125.
“We’re happy to be involved…it’s amazing to be able to give back in this way and make people aware of it, even if they’re not donating,” Johnson said.
The Lotus Center is looking for other companies to participate.
“It’s about promoting local, and it involves people, and you get different audiences in different places,” MacLachlan said.
Suggested items include hair and body care products, dental hygiene products, menstrual products, condoms, women’s panties and any other hygiene products. The center also updates an Amazon wishlist with current needs. The total cost of the supplies in each kit is around $40-$50.
“This stuff goes straight to the women here in our community that you pass on the streets,” MacLachlan said. “It stays in our own community, which is good, but at the same time, it’s sad to know that there is such a need in our own community. The price of everything has gone up and people are struggling.