Sami Gordon / The Daily Gamecock

Student organization fundraises for menstrual products for Columbia's homeless population

Planned Parenthood Generation Action, a student organization, raised $765 for Columbia's homeless shelters through its Period Power initiative last week. The organization was founded this semester and used the fundraising initiative to collect money and menstrual products for the homeless population of Columbia.

The organization held events on Greene Street throughout last week to raise awareness and encourage students to donate.

Sloan Wilson, a second-year women's and gender studies and political science student, is the president and founder of Planned Parenthood Generation Action. The organization is a collegiate branch of Planned Parenthood, which works to bring its messages regarding education, political advocacy and empowerment to campus.

"The bottom line is we do health care," Wilson said. 

Wilson explained that many people associate Planned Parenthood with abortion, and while that is one service provided, there are many more.

"Planned Parenthood also provides birth control, IUDs [intrauterine devices], STD testing, breast cancer screenings and we do physicals for teenagers,” Wilson said.

The organization works hand-in-hand with Planned Parenthood, the nearest one being in Columbia, which Wilson said many people do not know exist.

The purpose of Period Power was twofold. The organization worked to educate USC students regarding Planned Parenthood's messages and the stigma placed on periods, all while encouraging USC students to contribute to the fundraiser. 

The organization tabled Monday through Friday at various locations, such as Greene Street and Davis Field, and accepted menstrual product donations, cash and Venmo donations.

"A lot of what Planned Parenthood has done in the past is addressing resource inequity and the access that people have to things such as menstrual products. So if you’re homeless and you have a period, a lot of times you have to decide between whether you're gonna pay for a meal or you're gonna pay for tampons and pads," Wilson said. 

Both Wilson and Sulkowski spoke about the lack of awareness regarding this issue, which Period Power worked to combat. One student they reached was Brett Nilsen, a first-year business and finance student, who donated money to the fundraiser. Nilsen said he plans to look into the issue more after seeing the Period Power table. 

"I honestly hadn't given any thought to the issue at all until I saw this," Nilsen said.

Jenna Sulkowski, a second-year public relations student and member of the organization, also emphasized the importance of this specific fundraiser.

"Everybody deserves access to menstrual products, not just people who can afford them. I think it should be a right for everyone who has a period to be able to be comfortable and to be able to live their lives," Sulkowski said.

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