Tulsa Period Pantry:
Meeting a Critical Need for Girls in Tulsa
Founder of Tulsa Period Pantry, Cassie Celestain, with a typical Period Pantry.
Don’t you just love it when someone sees a need in the community and steps in to create a solution? It’s easy to complain about what’s wrong, but it’s the people who see a need and make it their goal to find a solution who change the world one charitable act at a time. Because I’ve volunteered for several outreach organizations, I was aware that there is always a need for feminine products for low-income women. However, I never even thought about how that impacted girls in school until I saw a Facebook post about Tulsa Period Pantry. Cassie Celestain recognized a problem and created a solution called Tulsa Period Pantry, a free resource for girls in school to obtain free feminine products.
Cassie, a former elementary teacher, was alerted to the issue by a former co-worker who is now an administrator at a middle school and high school. The former co-worker had posted on Facebook asking for resources to get feminine supplies for students in need. Cassie contacted organizations asking for assistance, but they couldn’t help due to the financial hardships Covid had caused.
Despite the lack of success with organizations, Cassie Celestain decided to conduct a small drive to collect items for the school. Her Facebook post asking for feminine products brought a significant response, with teachers agreeing there was a great need. Many teachers reported they had been using their own money to buy period supplies for their students. The post motivated people to donate, some citing their memories of not having period supplies when they were growing up. Cassie had collected over two thousand feminine products and four hundred dollars in donations in a matter of days. With such an overwhelming response, she knew it was essential to continue this project.
One of the disturbing facts is that one in four girls misses school due to not having proper feminine products. Cassie explained that the girls would usually stay home and use rags or other items that make it difficult to attend school. Although school nurses do have some products, girls often feel embarrassed to ask for them. They also may not be given enough supplies for their entire cycle. Tulsa Period Pantries are located in the school bathrooms where the girls can access what they need when they need it without having to ask. A drawer full of make-up bags is also available so products can be discreetly taken home. Having what is necessary for the rest of their cycle helps to ensure they can return to school.
Small make-up bags are necessary for girls to be able to carry supplies discreetly.
On the surface, this may seem like an insignificant problem, but there are substantial long-term implications. Without period supplies, a girl might have to miss almost a quarter of her time in school. She misses out on valuable learning opportunities to prepare for her future. She also misses out on social connections and sometimes goes without meals if dependent on free school lunches. Having feminine supply products readily available at no cost is a vital need for young women’s education.
Tulsa Period Pantry currently serves schools in the Tulsa area, some Tulsa Public Schools, and also some charter schools. Different schools tend to have different product preferences. Because of that, the first set-up of a Period Pantry is stocked with various products: panty liners, different sizes of tampons, pads for day and evening, etc. After seeing what products are most in demand at a particular school, they can better determine which products to re-stock to meet each school’s specific needs. Tulsa Period Pantry is open to serving more Title One area schools as long as donations meet the demand. If anyone is interested in having a Period Pantry at their school, contact TulsaPeriodPantry@gmail.com.
A Tulsa Period Pantry set-up.
How to Donate
Tulsa Period Pantry operates solely on the generosity of private donations. People may donate unopened boxes of tampons and/or pads. Small make-up bags are also needed for the girls to carry their period supplies. At this time, the Tulsa Period Pantry is not accepting reusable items such as internal cups or period panties. The best way for the public to help is to donate and help spread the word about Tulsa Period Pantry. Join the Facebook group for updates and needs, facebook.com/groups/tulsaperiodpantry. An easy way to donate is to order off the Amazon wish list: amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1XHCULEO89AJJ ( delivered directly to Tulsa Period Pantry). If you prefer to make a direct donation of products, email TulsaPeriodPantry@gmail.com to arrange a drop-off or pick-up of items. A great idea would be to get a group together, such as a church group or book club, and donate together.
One of the beneficial aspects of giving to the Tulsa Period Pantry is the knowledge that your donation will go directly to girls in need right here in Tulsa. It’s wonderful to know that you’re helping to meet a critical need that directly impacts the lives of Tulsa teenagers. It’s been a long, long time since I was a teenager, but I remember that panicked feeling of starting my period at school, not having the correct supplies, and being too embarrassed to go to the nurse. Tulsa Period Pantry is an idea born out of need and a person willing to do the work necessary to fill that need. Tulsa Period Pantry is a perfect example of what makes Tulsa a giving, supportive community.