For many low-income women and girls, expensive feminine hygiene products are simply out of reach—but the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Fredericksburg is trying to address that problem for some of the community’s youngest members.

The sisterhood of Muslim and Jewish women collected sanitary supplies, underwear, lip gloss, nail polish and other helpful items and packed them into kits last weekend for homeless students who attend Stafford County schools. The group aimed to help 20 girls but collected enough supplies to fill 40 individual kits, along with several more sacks of undergarments, snacks and products girls need during their periods.

“We can’t tell you how good it feels to be doing this project. We keep imagining the girls who might need these products, girls who have no stable place to live and thrive,” said SOSS co-leader Ruth Golmant. “We just wanted to help our little sisters.”

Tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene products can’t be purchased through government assistance programs like SNAP and Medicaid even though they’re necessary for women and girls. Golmant and fellow SOSS member Cathy Shalaby delivered the collected items to Cynthia Lucero–Chavez, the coordinator for the Stafford County Public Schools McKinney–Vento program, which guarantees school enrollment for children who live in inadequate or temporary housing, like homeless shelters and motels. Lucero–Chavez said items like these are always in demand by the students she serves, who currently number more than 150.

“This office is grateful for the generosity of the community as it allows us to make available nutritional, hygiene and academic support as needed,” she said. “Additionally, we are able to provide basics such as socks, undergarments, jackets and clothing when available.”

Anyone interested in knowing more about what that program entails or how you can lend support can contact Lucero–Chavez at clucero@staffordschools.net or call 540/368-2559, extension 146.

The Fredericksburg Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom is part of an international organization of the same name . The group’s mission is to build trust, respect and relationships between American and Canadian Muslim and Jewish women and teenage girls. Together the women commit to end acts of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim sentiment, stand up for one another when hate is aimed at our communities and engage in social action work.

The local organization, which is open to all Jewish and Muslim women, launched about two years ago. For more information about the group, contact co-leaders Ruth Golmant at rgolmant@verizon.net or Liz Nafti at e-wiley@live.com.

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