MOORESVILLE, N.C. — A Mooresville nonprofit that provides female hygiene products to some local schools is hoping one representative’s legislation is passed so it can further their cause.
Passing out pads isn't exactly what Anne Mautner thought she’d be doing with her life, but she’s happy to be where she is.
“I never thought I’d be the period lady. But, you know, if I can help make somebody’s day a little bit easier, if the work that we are all doing can ease some stress for people so that women can get to work, students can go to school confidently — then it’s all worth it,” Mautner said.
Mautner started The Mooresville Kindness Closet in 2018, gathering and giving out supplies to people who need them.
“Toilet paper is expensive, and people can’t afford it. Shampoo, deodorant. These are the most basic things that we all need to have dignity,” Mautner said.
Then, after going to a national conference, she saw the impact period poverty had on her community and looked for a simple solution.
“One in four students do not have access to the period products they need. So they just don't come to school or they come late or they borrow. They wear products too long, which causes public health issues,” she said.
It’s the lack of access to products that Mautner and The Mooresville Kindness Closet have zeroed-in on. They have stands in six schools spanning across two districts and have distributed over 20,000 products.
“I talked to the receptionist at Statesville High School, and she said that they used to get students coming in 20 a day, asking for a period supplies, and now they get maybe one or two,” Mautner said.
And she isn’t the only one focused on this issue.
The state budget for the last biennium, or two years, had money to fund similar programs across the state, giving money for period products in schools, but the funds quickly ran out because of high demand.
Rep. Julie von Haefen of Wake County says she’s looking into similar legislation this year and is also looking into legislation that would repeal the tax on period products.
It isn’t just students who feel the impact of period poverty, though.
Jacqueline Ferguson is one of The Mooresville Kindness Closet’s volunteers and says with a young daughter she sometimes has to choose between products for both of them and other necessities. When she can only get one set of products, she doesn’t hesitate to give it to her daughter instead of herself.
“For a lot of single moms or moms in poverty, you know, we get food stamps. We get WIC. And that covers our food and stuff. But [it doesn’t] cover anything for that. And if it’s between that and getting your kid cold medicine, we’re getting the cold medicine,” Ferguson said.
Both women say any help the state can give would help improve women’s hygiene.
“I think it just goes back to what the basic needs are. So having the state fund, you know, a very basic need, especially in a school, is critical,” Mautner said.