Like many homes around the township, Cherise Doyle’s front porch was piled high with Amazon boxes last Wednesday. The difference, though, was that those packages had nothing to do with holiday gift giving and everything to do with helping those in need.
Doyle and friend and fellow Cherry Hill resident Laura Reynolds have spearheaded a collection to provide “period packs” to local women’s shelters. The hope is to fill the packs with everything a woman may need, such as pads and tampons in various sizes, liners and wipes. Those who want to support the collection can purchase items from the Amazon wish list that are delivered directly to Doyle.
“I have worked a lot with women’s shelters in the area in the past. I’ve always had a soft place in my heart for these women. So obviously when there’s a need, we want to fill it,” Reynolds said. “More than anything, I’m a feminist – we both are raging feminists – and I feel as though it’s our responsiblity to take care of one another,” she added. “This is a great opportunity to do that.”
The drive was inspired by Doyle’s friend holding a similar collection in South Carolina. When Doyle saw that friend sharing the news on social media, it spurred her to action.
“She shared how happy the locations were that received the packages, and it just inspired me to do something. I mentioned it to Laura, and she thought it was obviously a fantastic idea,” Doyle explained.
The pair have their kids involved, too. Doyle is mom to 13-year-old twins Makayla and Makenna, 12-year-old Jonah and 10-year-old Justin, and Reynolds has a 10-year-old daughter, Bella.
“It’s not just because we have girls,” Reynolds noted. “We also really wanted (Doyle’s) boys to experience this as well, because it is important for all of us to learn about the needs in our community as well as normalizing what women go through.
“We thought it would be really beneficial for them.”
The educational component of the drive is just as important to the Cherry Hill residents as the period pack distribution. There is certainly a stigma surrounding discussions of menstruation, and the women hope having a collection like theirs helps move the conversation forward and normalizes something that is, well, normal.
“I believe that this generation that’s being raised right now is going to have so much more information than even just our generation did. I think that – and I’m hopeful that – it is going to get better,” Reynolds said.
“I do think that within our age group – I’m 38 – I’m starting to see especially more men becoming comfortable talking about these things and understanding that it’s important to teach your sons and daughters that this is your human body, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
“This is what happens.”
Doyle and Reynolds are trying to figure out where to donate their period packs when the collection ends in mid-January. Doyle’s sister-in-law, Kristin Townsend, is a therapist in Philadelphia and is helping to find some organizations in need.
“As soon as they’re done, we’ll get them in the hands of the shelters,” Reynolds promised.
So far, the response Doyle and Reynolds have gotten from the community has been tremendous. Their wish list was almost filled after it was posted to their Facebook pages and the What’s Up in Cherry Hill (OFFICIAL) Facebook group, so Doyle restocked. After the initial collection, the pair hopes to continue providing the period packs on a regular basis.
“I was thinking when we finish up, maybe while we’re putting the kits together, we’ll take a group shot of everybody and make a postcard and mail those to the people who helped us out,” Doyle said.
“There’s a lot of Cherry Hill addresses, but there’s also Haddonfield, some down the beach. The word’s getting out.”
To donate, visit Amazon.com and search for the “Project Period CH” wishlist. To have items picked up, email Doyle and Reynolds at email@example.com.