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Looking to donate to Hurricane Harvey victims? Don't forget the tampons.

Looking to donate to Hurricane Harvey victims? Don't forget the tampons.

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Periods. Aside from their reproductive value and million-dollar blow to a woman's pockets, they're also part of a very important bodily function that, much like natural disasters, happen whether you're ready for them or not.

That's where female-focused humanitarian organizations, like I Support the Girls, come in.

"Periods don't stop for hurricanes. Periods don't stop for flooding," Dana Marlowe, the founder and executive director of I Support the Girls told Circa.

Unlike the American Red Cross and the FEMAs of the world, I Support the Girls is dedicated to the collection and distribution of feminine products for women and girls in need.

"Periods don't stop for hurricanes. Periods don't stop for flooding."
Dana Marlowe, Founder and Executive Director of I Support the Girls

This grassroots non-profit is two years young, but its already made a significant impact in the disaster relief space, supplying one million donated goods to rape victims, homeless and displaced women in the aftermath of disasters, such as the 2016 Louisiana floods, Hurricane Matthew, and now: Hurricane Harvey.

After the devastating hurricane first made landfall in Texas on Saturday, I Support the Girls donated thousands of tampons, maxi pads and bras to three of the largest temporary evacuee shelters in the state.

Marlowe estimates her organization will have donated 70,000 tampons and maxi pads by the end of the hurricane and flooding relief efforts.

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Not including Harvey relief efforts, Marlowe's home-run organization has donated 135,000 bras and 850,000 menstrual hygiene products to more than 200 charities worldwide.

Marlowe, a Maryland resident and mother of two, says her organization receives dozens of requests each year for donations, but nothing trumps the overwhelming number of emails and social messages she receives, like when a natural disaster hits.

She says the number of requests has a lot to do with temporary shelters either falling short on menstrual hygiene products due to a lack of donations or shelters will run out, because they're in such high demand.

Marlowe says much of the disparity between hygiene resources readily available for women versus men stems from the stigma tied to talking about periods in public.

"Even in school we're used to having to pass a tampon or a maxi pad to a friend in need or slide it up under your sleeve as you go to the bathroom," she said. "Because of that, it just kind of perpetrates that taboo."

She also says cryptic language surrounding feminine hygiene products makes it hard to draw awareness.

"When I think of toiletry, I'm thinking soap, shampoo, body lotion. I'm not thinking toiletry necessarily equating to menstrual hygiene products," she said. "I think a lot of it is on the list it's just not being spelled out so explicitly that's making it drive people to go out and donate these products."

"It's just not being spelled out explicitly that's making it drive people to go out and donate these products."
Dana Marlowe, Founder and Executive Director of I Support the Girls

I Support the Girls has 50 locations worldwide and several affiliates based in Texas helping out with the relief efforts.

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For those looking to donate products, I Support the Girls recommends bras of all sizes and maxi pads with overnight wings, because they have a longer use.

To learn more about how you can help I Support Girls, visit http://isupportthegirls.org.

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