- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

OAKWOOD HILLS, Ill. (AP) - A McHenry County couple has started a menstrual product bank for women with low or no income throughout the county.

The Monthly Bank, founded by Oakwood Hills residents Josie Shattuck and her wife, Rachel Shattuck, is a collection and distribution bank of menstrual pads, tampons, panty liners and menstrual cups for those who are otherwise unable to buy such products.

Through her work as a case manager of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s Drug and Mental Health courts, Josie Shattuck has helped connect clients with resources in the community. During a meeting with a client who requested information on access to menstrual products, Josie Shattuck realized there was not anywhere she could point her client to.

“I recognized there was a need and immediately realized I could help fill that need,” said Josie Shattuck, 27.

The Monthly Bank partners with area social service agencies, homeless shelters and food pantries and provides reusable bins full of menstrual products. So far, the organization has partnered with McHenry County specialty courts, Thresholds Homeless Outreach program, FISH of McHenry Food Pantry, the Old Firehouse Assistance Center and the McHenry County PADS day center and emergency shelter sites.

Rachel Shattuck, 32, said they are working on building more partnerships with organizations in the area in addition to more designated drop-off sites. She also said they are planning to apply for grants and seek sponsorship in order to attain and maintain sustainability.

“We really have a vision to become a sustainable, long-term solution to this problem,” she said.

So far, The Monthly Bank has bought enough product to supply 21 women each month for an entire year, equating to roughly 2,375 tampons, 1,981 pads and 1,927 liners, but their work is far from over. Their goal is to be able to provide enough menstrual products for 150 women each month for an entire year.

An average woman requires roughly 240 tampons or pads a year, which equates to a roughly $50 donation, Rachel Shattuck said.

“With a small amount of money, we are able to make a huge impact,” she said.

The women will host an event at 1 p.m. Feb. 12 at 4 Woody Way, Cary, as a way to bring together friends, community members and anyone interested, so they can learn more about The Monthly Bank. Guests are asked to bring at least one box of pads or tampons as an “entry fee.”

Rachel Shattuck said she believes having access to menstrual products is a basic human need. She said people are unable to buy these products with government assistance, and so they often are left to choose between providing for their families or helping themselves.

“As a woman, I would never want to have to do that. I can’t imagine anyone would want to do that,” Rachel Shattuck said. “It’s not a choice we want to see people in our community having to make.”

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Source: The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald, http://bit.ly/2kr1V0u

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Information from: The Northwest Herald, http://www.nwherald.com

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