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New Tampa Juniors Club helps girls in impoverished countries

NEW TAMPA — While it’s a topic generally not fitting for dinner-table discussions, it’s one that has New Tampa Junior Woman’s Club members frequently chatting.

Their conversations on the subject by way of social media also have garnered the attention and support of ladies throughout the country.

The club recently launched a charitable endeavor on behalf of Days for Girls, an international nonprofit organization meant to empower impoverished females across the globe with menstrual-cycle management kits.

Around the world, impoverished females are forced to isolate themselves due to the lack of feminine products and often are barred from schools and workplaces for up to three months each year. As a result, it limits their ability to pursue an education and significantly lowers their income levels, especially in comparison to their male counterparts.

To help rectify the issue, the New Tampa Juniors — who have also engaged the assistance of several others from the New Tampa Woman’s Club — are creating trifold maxi pads and shields that hold the pads in place. Both items are washable and reusable for up to three years.

Their goal is to make 100 kits, which also will include a visual instruction sheet, a bar of soap, a pair of panties and two gallon-size Ziploc bags to store the soiled items prior to washing them.

“The reusable kit is truly a life-changing solution for both the women and the community,” said project chairwoman Margaret Andrade.

New Tampa Junior Woman’s Club president Candice Melton concurred.

“The Days for Girls project is very eye opening. It makes you realize how much we take for granted and items that we consider basic necessities are not readily available everywhere,” she said.

Junior club member Michelle Small, who’s charged with involving the community’s woman’s club in the effort, said when she learned about the need for the kits she immediately jumped onboard.

“It really pulled at my heart,” she said. “Every girl deserves dignity.”

Donna Zachry of Seaford, Del., said she knew nothing about the Days for Girls initiative until she read Andrade’s September blog.

“I love to sew and I’m always looking for ways that I can make things to somehow help someone’s life be a little brighter,” she said. “By helping with this project, I was able to take a little bit of time out of my comfortable life and contribute to the care and comfort of some girls who really need it.”

LeAnn Olsen, a resident of Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and the mother of four, also felt moved to heed Andrade’s request for people’s involvement in making items for the kits.

“This little gift will be a gift that keeps on giving,” said Olsen, noting the project also has provided a perfect opportunity to teach her children that people in underprivileged countries lack many of the essentials and comforts commonplace in this country.

“I think it is planting little seeds in their hearts and minds of how they can also help others become stronger and have confidence in who they are,” she said.

For information on how to help, visit www.gfwcnewtampajuniors.org/2013/charitable-sewing-project-ntjwc or email sewingprojects@gfwcnewtampajuniors.org.

Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.

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