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How a TikTok video helped these college students collect over 200,000 products to help fight period poverty

When Alexa Mohsenzadeh and Jenica Baron posted a video of bras on the fence to TikTok last July, they didn’t expect to be viral.

A 19-year-old woman from Burlington, Illinois, advertised a brassiere and sanitary goods collection drive in the Chicago area and advertised a free shipping label to donors.

After the video received over 300,000 views and 90,000 likes, the duo decided to undertake a national initiative through a non-profit organization. Her drive..

Launched in June 2020 by Mohsenzadeh and Baron, the organization collects items from women’s shelters, indigenous reserves, black-owned businesses, and refugee assistance programs, making women unable to obtain sanitary supplies. We support the fight against period poverty, which is a global problem.

“It’s a really difficult problem for people who don’t have access to (menstrual supplies),” Mosenzade told CNN. “Because of such mobilized efforts to collect PPE, period poverty is very similar to hygiene poverty and lack of masks, so it is a good time to launch something like this. I thought there was, but it’s longer-term. “

The group held drives in more than 40 states and Canada, collecting over 165,000 period products, 11,000 bras, and 100,000 general hygiene products. They also advised a group aiming to host a drive in the UK.

They used their quarantine hobby to help others

When the Baron started sewing as a quarantine hobby last spring, she came to Mosenzade with the idea, “Why don’t you sew a bra and donate?”

Since they have been friends since sixth grade, Baron said it was easy to get Mosenzade to help.

“I generally trust her very much in many ways,” Baron told CNN. “When I went to her, I thought I could start planning right away.”

Realizing that Mohsenzadeh does not have similar sewing capabilities, they chose to collect items that would advance the fight against poverty during a period of common concern.

Last year, about one in four women struggled to buy sanitary napkins due to lack of income. According to the Sanitary Products AllianceOrganize the collection and distribution of sanitary napkins in the community.

Baron and Mohsenzadeh emphasized that despite Her Drive’s “she”, she supports all sexual orientations and sexually oriented people.

“Half of our mission is to alleviate poverty in physiology and hygiene, and the other half is to do so and support the BIPOC community or the undervalued communities needed,” Mohsenzadeh said. Told.

TikTok videos gave them national momentum

The nonprofit organized its first Chicago fundraising campaign in July. Baron and Mohsenzadeh have collected bras, vintage products, and hygiene products through pouch pickup or postal delivery.

They have collected hundreds of bras and thousands of period items for the local women’s shelter, the Navajo Nation Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, the Ogura Su. They also donated $ 1,300 to the Brave Space Alliance Trans Relief Fund.

But they “did not extend her drive beyond our hometown because we knew,” Mosenzade said.

As interest grew, they decided to use TikTok to facilitate their efforts. This is a successful decision.

The day after Her Drive’s TikTok video was word-of-mouth, Baron and Mohsenzadeh woke up to hundreds of messages from others who wanted to help.

“We hadn’t planned for social media success so far,” Baron said. “There were a lot of things that rolled on the punch and were really excited about how things were done.”

Within a few months, her drive expanded from two girls to hundreds of volunteers and donors around the world. And they are still growing.

Here’s what the organization wants next:

Since launching the “Host Your Own Drive” program in October, Mohsenzadeh and Baron have directly assisted in planning more than 400 drives in the United States and Canada. And they advised groups from England to Puerto Rico.

They release TikToks daily, discussing a variety of topics, from how to pack menstrual kits to lesser-known products such as menstrual cups and videos that helped increase followers. Your account has over 60,000 followers.

Mohsenzadeh and Baron spend 15-20 hours a week running a nonprofit organization, and both are full-time college students.

Mohsenzadeh is a pre-law student at Emory University and Baron is a public health major at Tulane University.

“I’m so invested and I enjoy interacting with volunteers so much that it doesn’t feel like a job,” Mosenzade said of their nonprofit organization.

Their families helped market from home while they managed to manage their organization and school—both Mosenzade and Baron asked their younger brother to unpack and stock the cargo.

Their latest project is to deliver the product to Chicago Public Schools.

Nearly one in five American girls couldn’t go to school because of their period. According to a 2018 survey of women’s hygiene brand Always..

Not having a bra also affects the ability of students to be considered “professional,” Baron explained.

To address these issues, HerDrive has partnered with Community in Schools Chicago to distribute “care kits” to students.

“We just wanted to be able to help young girls of our age feel empowered through these issues so that they could jump over that hurdle.” Baron said.

According to Mohsenzadeh, the organization wants to remain “sustainable” in the future, especially for indigenous communities that are scarce in rural resources.

“No matter how successful we were, it was a really humble experience,” Baron said. “We learned something new from every group … the value of diversity, the value of listening to people.”

What’s their advice to others who want to organize similar drives? Please use the one in the area.

“The resources are there and the community is already willing to help. It’s hard to use,” Mosenzade said. “We learned that by asking people to donate, it’s very simple and straightforward. Breaking down barriers to entry is very important and social media is doing it pretty well.”

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