In America, an estimated 26 million women have a menstrual cycle every month. But one in five of those doesn't have enough money or resources to purchase feminine care products like pads or tampons.
For a girl in high school, the worry and shame of not having the products they need can cause them to miss school, sports, work, and more.
Which is why a nonprofit in Sharon is hoping they, and the community, can help.
Anna Marie Mindicino, the executive director of Do Good. Period. has made it her mission to help women in Western Pennsylvania have a clean and comfortable menstrual experience.
"Do Good. Period. is a not for profit that I created completely by accident," she explained. "I own a creative arts learning center, and two years ago for Christmas, I wanted to do something nice and make it not clothes or toys or food, because everyone already does that, and it's a need but its already met. So I was talking to my best friend who is a school counselor, and she was telling me about a hurricane relief fund in North Carolina that was soliciting feminine hygiene product donations."
"And I was like, let's do that, that would be perfect. Because no one ever thinks about it, I never thought about it," Mindicino said.
Within a few months, she had more than 20,000 feminine hygiene products donated to the cause.
"So my two major donations have been to AWARE and the crisis center of Lawrence County. They're both nonprofits geared toward domestic abuse. They both have safehouses, so that's where the bulk of the donations have gone to, for women who maybe had to leave terrible situations without any clothes and almost certainly without any feminine care products," she said.
But as the awareness of period poverty grows, so do the opportunities to help.
"Period poverty," Mindicino explained. "It's like a fancy word for basically saying that you do not have the means to purchase feminine care products each month."
Mindicino, a piano tutor, said she had seen first hand that often the girls who can't afford feminine care products won't go to school.
"If you had to be a high school girl without access to period products, it would be terrible," she said.
The impact on a teen's education can be lasting, Mindicino explains.
"They're behind on their education. They may not be able to graduate on time or promptly from such a silly thing. Your period should not stop you from doing things, basic things like go to school, go to work. And it does."
She believes the scope of the problem could be more extensive than anyone realizes.
"One in five, and when you're talking about a school district of 600 to a thousand, you could be looking at 100 to 200 girls every month," she explained. "And that one in five number is national. It doesn't look at when you're in a low-income school where the number could be two in five or three in five."
But it's hard to know the scope when many people shy away from discussing periods.
"You know the girls won't say they're missing school because they've got their periods. They'll say I've got stomach pain, or I'm not feeling well," she said.
For their first year of the program, Do Good. Period. is partnering with the Sharon City School District to provide small makeup bags stuffed with feminine hygiene products for the girls. That way, they never have to miss a class again.
Mindicino already has about 700 makeup bags, and thousands of pads and tampons to fill them with, but she's looking for help to make the program a success.
"I've got some from California, some from England, so the word is spreading, and it's really cool," she said.
"I don't just want to make a one-time donation and not be able to keep it going for these girls," she continued.
So Do Good. Period. is launching an online donation center where community members can sign up for a monthly recurring donation of $7 to fund the program.
The website is set to launch on August 1st.
Also, Do Good. Period. has an Amazon Wishlist set up.
"You can click on there while you're scrolling on your phone and pick what you want to donate. It comes straight here, and you don't have to take time out of your day. It really makes the donation process simple," she explained.
Mindicino says she frequently comes home to boxes of tampons and pads on her front step, something she's completely okay with.
"The community support has been great."
"It's nice because I wanted to do something that stays here. You know you don't want to donate money to a group in California and hope it comes back here. These donations will stay right in the community," she said.
Mindicino is hoping to expand into other districts in the future but says she's looking forward to using Sharon as a learning experience to find out just how many girls will use the help.
For more information, or to get in touch with Mindicino or Do Good. Period. check out their Facebook page.