Monticello Student Forms Nonprofit for Period Products


Smith is looking for all products, such as these tampons

Olivia Moore

Grace Smith, a junior at Monticello High School, is always trying to help the community.


Smith was recently inspired to create Ready Girls, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes period products throughout Albemarle County. “Last year, I was in this health advocacy club at Monticello, and we did a hygiene drive. Upon doing that, we noticed that there’s such a need for that in that community. That inspired me to want to do something more sustainable than just one drive, kind of like an ongoing fundraiser leading into the community,” she explained.

This mission would help many girls in this community. One study in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 64% of women in the US have had trouble paying for period products, and 21% experience difficulties monthly. 

Smith agrees that this is an issue that needs to be resolved. “I think specifically in our county, there’s a very big socio-economic difference between people that are very well-off and people that really struggle to have the money for small things, even just period products. So I think it’s helpful to provide everyone kind of the same opportunity to do well in school and not be distracted by that,” she said.

Other people in the community agree that this is an important mission.

Laine Cooper, a freshman at WAHS, agrees that free female hygiene products in schools are very useful. “Period products are a necessity for every girl and some of them may not be able to afford them or have them available at home,” she said. 

Unfortunately, this will not be an easy task. Smith, along with her partners, needs to get the word out about their goal. There are logistical roadblocks that need to be worked out.

Recently, Smith ran a small drive to spread the word. Smith explained how Ready Girls will handle donations, “Right now, we’ve just gotten the first round of donations, and we haven’t distributed them yet. So we’re just holding them and we’ll coordinate with the nurses and we’re going to distribute them to different middle schools and high schools in the county,” Smith said. 

Although Ready Girls is a new drive, its mission is timeless. However, in a few years, Smith will graduate high school, and she will no longer be at Monticello to carry out the drives.

“I’m going to try and find someone or multiple people to kind of take it from me once I’ve gone and hopefully they will be able to pass it on, so it can continue,” Smith assured. 

 Current high school students are not alone in their struggles with Period Products. Western teachers and staff have experienced period-related problems for years

Pam Wood, the Western school nurse, shared her own unpleasant experiences with period products. “When I was a student, I went here back in the 80s. I graduated in 84 from Western and back then they had the old machines, the coin-operated machines, and when we didn’t have quarters it prevented you from getting anything. It was embarrassing, too, because I’ve had things spill out of my purse and got teased or whatnot. So yes, it’s been an issue when I was growing up,” she said.

Although Ready Girls will benefit many schools across the county, Western already has its own supplier, according to Wood.

“We have a partnership with the Crozet United Methodist Church that supplies us with tampons and pads, assorted sizes for the students and we have a good amount of them,” she said. The products can be found in a small bathroom inside the nurse’s office. 

Though Western is lucky to have the Church as a donator, not all schools have this benefit. Even if they do have a small assortment of products, sometimes it’s not enough for the unpredictabilities of menstruation.

Smith will be accepting any donations, “[We want] pretty much anything because people like a wide variety. That’s one of the main things we’re doing because they [nurses] provide one standard size for everything at school. So it kind of helps girls to pick and choose what they might need specifically,” Smith said.

This organization is set to last for a while, however, for the time being, Smith has one goal, “One long-term goal I have is to have started having fundraisers every May that will be able to provide products for the next year, and also kind of to expand it to different schools, so I’ll have representatives and people who can reach each school. So I think that would be really cool to get countywide,” Smith said, explaining her ultimate plan: to have a major fundraiser every May. 

All in all, Ready Girls is a nonprofit intent on helping those in need, and it’s important to document its impact on Albemarle County.