There is a Relentless School Nurse out there, who created a viral response to a very simple request on a social media site called Reddit. This is what she posted:
I’m a school nurse in a state that doesn’t provide feminine hygiene products to its students. Every day I have girls come in needing products. It’s true that some are just unprepared but SO many of them have told me they feel guilty asking their parents for $5 for tampons. We have programs for free lunch and we even have a program where we send home food for the weekend. But nothing to supply these girls with tampons. I asked a girl today what she does at home and she said she uses toilet paper. I use my own money to buy these girls pads and tampons. Every school nurse I know does. So, when you’re sending school supplies drop off a box of tampons and see one grateful nurse!!
I wanted to share the conversation I had with the particular student mentioned above.
Her- “Hey, um, that time of the month again. Do you have anything?”
Me- “I do, but I’m almost out. You forgot again?”
Her- “no, but I don’t have any at home.”
Me- “ok. But you really need to get some. If you’ll bring me $5 I’ll pick them up for you.”
(I know this girl pretty well by now. She lives with her dad and has a difficult relationship with him.)
Her- “My dad used quarters to pay for gas this morning. I’m not asking him for $5.”
Me- “Ok sweetheart. I’ll get you a couple boxes for Home. But what do you usually do at home when you start your period?”
Her- “I use toilet paper.”
These girls aren’t too embarrassed or lazy or forgetful. They’re poor and they can’t help it. The majority of them can afford it. Out of 400 menstruating girls maybe 20 have a hard time getting access to pads or tampons. That’s still 20 too many. A huge thank you to everyone who goes out and donates!!!”
The post trended on Reddit and went viral with wide-ranging responses from outrage that feminine hygiene products are not readily available to offers of donations to address this urgent issue. What struck me most about the post was that the school nurse was sharing a very common occurrence in health offices across our country on any given day. She shed light on an issue that school nurses grapple with in light of shrinking budgets, limited resources, and high need.
If the school nurse who has created this social media response reads this blog, or anyone knows who she is, please let me know how to get in touch with her. I want to thank her for thinking of the rest of us, while also helping her own students. This Relentless School Nurse deserves a huge bravo for advocating for her students and ours as well. If anyone happens to get unsolicited donations of tampons and pads over the next few weeks, you can thank the school nurse who had the forethought to post her plea on Reddit!