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High school students launch drive to supply period products

Avery Bruen (L) and Weining Ding
Avery Bruen and Weining Ding formed a group called EmpowerHer to supply fellow students with free tampons and pads.

While many of their friends were visiting relatives, skiing or celebrating the holidays in sunny places, Weining Ding and Avery Bruen spent their vacation soliciting donations of tampons and pads to supply Albemarle High School restrooms.

“So we’ve been going around to our local neighborhoods and putting slips on either mailboxes or door knobs with scheduled pickup times to leave products on your front porch, and then we go around a couple of days later and pick it all up," Bruen explains.

So far she says people have been glad to give.

“We’ve gotten a really great response from our community. It’s been really supportive," Bruen says.

"I was actually talking to someone today about how thankful they were that we have these boxes that are just free and accessible to everyone,” Ding adds.

They included a QR Code on tags, enabling people to order products through Amazon and have them shipped directly to Ding's door.

"Our whole basement is full right now, and we get about 30 packages a day."

And when restrooms run out, Bruen says, they’ve got a system in place to resupply.

“On the little boxes we have a QR code, so you can scan the QR code when the boxes are empty so we know what to refill and in what bathroom,” Bruen says.

Ding says boyfriends, brothers and parents have also pitched in to make these essential products available to any girl who needs them.

"A lot of people would think that all of our volunteers would be female, but we have a lot of male volunteers as well."

Ding will head off to college next year, but she’s confident others will step in, and she hopes this campaign is making a difference in other ways.

“We’re breaking the stigma about this really important need. People believe that not only are we making a difference now, but we’re going to make a difference in the future as well.”

Bruen and Ding add that several other schools are interested in starting similar programs.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief