By Kristin Boza
During the holiday season, it’s easy to find a food, toy or clothing drive to donate new or used items to. It’s also easy to forget that essential items, especially feminine care products, are in dire need year-round. That’s one reason why Beverly/Morgan Park native Jesseca Rhymes founded Never Go Without, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to filling the gap and ensuring every woman and girl can take care of her personal hygiene each month.
“I started Never Go Without to combine my love for fun and service,” Rhymes said. “In honor of my 24th birthday, I hosted my first feminine care product drive. I promoted the drive, picked up donations and shopped for products every night for about a month.”
At her birthday party, friends and family brought donations. Rhymes is eager to make this an annual event. To date, Rhymes and her mother, Lynette, have been able to donate over 23,000 incontinence supplies, pads, tampons, pantiliners and wipes to Chicago-area women in need.
The biggest recipient of Never Go Without’s donations is Deborah’s Place, the oldest and largest provider of housing for women experiencing homelessness in Chicago. “Deborah’s Place is always in need of incontinence supplies,” Rhymes said. “This makes perfect sense because a period lasts maybe 10 days at the most, but when a woman is dealing with incontinence issues, that is a daily struggle.”
Product donations can be dropped off or mailed to DJ’s Bike Doctor in Hyde Park. However, there are a couple other ways to donate that can stretch the dollar and even benefit the giver.
“We are involved with a company called Aunt Flow, which is a one-to-one purchasing program,” Rhymes said. “For every box of tampons or pads you purchase for yourself, you can choose to donate a box to Never Go Without.” Users can sign up for a monthly delivery to receive tampons or pads, and can even customize the box based on their individual flow needs. In turn, Aunt Flow will donate the same box to Never Go Without. Sign up at AuntFlow.org.
Alternatively, monetary donations are accepted through their website at NeverGoWithoutPeriod.org. “We shop very frugally and coupon in order to make our donation dollars stretch,” Rhymes said.
Rhymes’ next goal is to spread the word across the Chicago area via social media with the hashtag #likesharefollowdonate. “We always need people to share what we are doing via Facebook and Instagram. Half the battle is making sure people know and understand this is a real need,” she said.
“I cannot imagine dealing with my period and not having the proper supplies. It is unacceptable that there are women who do it every month,” Rhymes said. “This is a simple need that is way too often overlooked, and I just want to shine more light on the issue.”
Looking forward, Rhymes is gearing up for their annual event next year and is seeking sponsorship and partners to make the event bigger and better, she said. “We are small but mighty. We are still finding the right path for us, but no matter where we go or what we do, we are going to keep making sure we get feminine care products to more women in need,” Rhymes said.
To find out how you can help, email Jesseca Rhymes at NeverGoWithout.Period@gmail.com.