For some people — no matter their age — talking about periods can evoke pangs of embarrassment. A group of Lawrence teens aims to alleviate those feelings by normalizing the conversation about menstruation while offering free period products to those in need.
Once every cycle, Honor Moon will open its pantry to anyone who needs tampons or pads. Located just north of Culinaria restaurant and in front of What a Little Birdy Told Me at 512 E. Ninth St. Studio 1, the pantry will host its grand opening from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 and from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17.
Eight teens helped launch the pantry. All current or former students of Bishop Seabury Academy, the teens aimed to create a space together where anyone who menstruates would feel welcome asking for help.
Hazel Powers, a ninth-grader at Free State High School, said she had imagined the challenges unhoused people experience while menstruating and voiced her sadness to her mom, Jenny Baker Powers. And after watching the documentary “Period. End of Sentence.” Hazel knew she wanted to make change.
Hazel learned the stigma surrounding periods was a global problem affecting many people — about half of the world’s population at some point. “It’s especially important to help transgender and nonbinary people who are not comfortable buying period products on their own to have a space to get the products with no judgment or questions.”
A group of friends joined Hazel in collecting donations and presenting information to the student body at Seabury. Margaret Mulhern, a Seabury ninth grader, said she held the notoriety of being the first student to use the word “menstruation” at an all-school assembly during a presentation about the project. “Honor Moon is an important cause because it is reminding our community that periods are a thing that happen, and we need to talk about it and support people who don’t have access to the products they need. Menstrual products are a right, not a privilege. Period.”
Others who have joined Hazel and Margaret along the journey include Merrit Hale, Olivia Hazlett, Maeve Nichols, Giova Rubenstein, Tara Thompson-Glodich and Lilly Wall. The Seabury club Feminists Take Action held a two-week donation drive, and the front office continues to accept donations on school days from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at 4120 Clinton Parkway Frontage.
Community partners have also stepped up to help. Van Go donated the box that holds donations; graphic designer Eliza Mayo created the group’s Honor Moon logo; Lou & Co. Hair Studio, 710 Massachusetts St., continues to accept donations for the pantry through October; and the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas has supported the cause with printing and mentorship, including tips on how to make a grassroots project sustainable into the future.
To ensure the project endures after the founders of Honor Moon have transitioned to adulthood, Tara, a ninth grader at Seabury, said the group seeks designation as a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Noting some teens don’t have access to a safe adult who can buy period products for them, she said, “I want to help people feel safe to ask when they can’t afford or are not comfortable asking.”
FSHS ninth grader Lilly added that she has always wanted to help people in the community, especially teens. “We take donations. We don’t buy the products we give out, we just want to give back to the community the way that we have received from Lawrence. For me, at least, Lawrence has always been somewhat of a progressive community. It’s been a good place to grow up in.”
After the grand opening in October, the group will open the inclusive pantry to disburse free pads and tampons from 6-8 p.m. on third Thursdays and from 3-6 p.m. on third Sundays. The pantry is located at 512 E. Ninth St., Studio 1. Donations can be dropped off at the pantry too. Email email@example.com for more information.
— Tricia Masenthin (she/her), reporter, can be reached via email at tmasenthin (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com.