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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Brooke Bennett

Brooke Bennett

Montgomery, Alabama

Brooke Bennett, 12, of Montgomery, Alabama, a seventh-grader at Saint James School, has worked with her twin, Breanna, to assemble and distribute approximately 200 bags of feminine hygiene products and toiletries every month to girls who otherwise might have to miss school during their periods because they can’t afford personal care products. Their mother used to work at a school in a low-income area, and often brought personal care items because many girls there couldn’t buy their own. “I thought that girls at other schools must be having the same problem,” said Brooke. From research, she learned that “period poverty” keeps 20 percent of girls out of school during their monthly cycle because they don’t have the proper protection. “People often think this is a problem that affects only poor girls in Africa, Asia and South America,” said Brooke. “However, girls right here in Alabama and throughout the United States suffer, too.”

So Brooke persuaded her sister to help her address this need. Last July, on their 12th birthday, they asked for donations instead of gifts, and convinced friends to do the same. After recruiting a group of student and adult volunteers and filing for nonprofit status, the sisters began collecting monetary and product donations through Facebook, a GoFundMe page and media interviews. Every month, the sisters assemble kits that include sanitary napkins, tampons, wet wipes, lotion, deodorant and other toiletries, which are then distributed to girls in need. An important component of their project is education, so they also include information from the Alabama Department of Health about menstrual health and how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.