Around 40 volunteers were working in Hunts Point at the Food Bank For New York City warehouse on a recent Saturday afternoon, repackaging feminine and hygiene products to be distributed to food pantries all over the city.
The event, part of the Woman to Woman campaign that takes place every March during Women’s History Month, seeks to raise awareness and funds to help distribute these expensive products that sometimes are forgotten when people think of basic needs for women in poverty.
“One in six women in New York rely on food pantries to attend to their basic needs,” said Lisa Hines-Johnson, chief operations officer at Food Bank For New York City. “Women have to make a choice of paying their bills and rent or purchasing their basic necessities.” And young women and girls sometimes end up skipping school because they don’t have access to these essential feminine products, she said.
At the event, women, men and children stood around five long tables with plenty of tampons, sanitary pads, deodorants, toothpaste and other basic necessities — with the volunteers filling ziplock bags and purple plastic bags that went into huge cardboard boxes to be transported to more than 1,000 charities and schools citywide.
“It’s in my nature to want to help people,” said Kaitlyn Abshire, 18, a Louisiana native living in New York while and a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s in my nature to want to help people. I have the weekends off so what better way to spend than helping others? I decided to volunteer with the Food Bank.”
“I have the weekends off so what better way to spend than helping others? I decided to volunteer with the Food Bank.”
“I was looking to serve my community. I was born and raised in the Bronx; I know what it means to be in need. I’m fortunate enough to have family but others don’t have family or resources,” said Ronda Brown, 53, from Wakefield.
The Shirazu-Hiza family all came together, mom, dad and two sons, aged 10 and 13. “We wanted to do something as a family to support the community and to give our kids an opportunity to volunteer and raise awareness of the needs of people in the city,“ said Joel Shirazu-Hiza, 48, who works in the financial sector in Manhattan.
His son Arlo, a seventh– grader in a Manhattan school, was busy running around filling the bags and depositing them in boxes taller than himself. “At first, I thought it wouldn’t be so much fun, but then when I got here, I was happy that I came because this is for a good cause,” he said.
To donate, volunteer or to know more about the Food Bank For New York City services go to: https://www.foodbanknyc.org/