MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Free 2 Teach, a Madison County nonprofit, is no stranger to providing teachers with much-needed supplies for their classrooms at no cost. However, the organization now hopes to help girls access menstrual products.
Free 2 Teach does this through its new program, Free 2 Learn.
Alison Kling, executive director of Free 2 Teach, says access to these products is a topic that has come up repeatedly in discussions with school staff.
“In our discussions with teachers and nurses, this issue of menstrual products keeps coming up,” Kling said.
Kling said there are 17,095 girls in middle and high schools in Madison County’s three public school systems.
“What we set out to do with this program was find a very simple way for teachers to be empowered to support girls in their classrooms, and that’s where Free 2 Learn was born,” she said. Kling said.
The Free 2 Learn program will provide free feminine hygiene kits that teachers can store in their classrooms to help students when needed. Each kit includes pads, liners, wipes and a pair of underwear delivered in a discreet drawstring bag.
“There are other organizations doing this in other states and in Alabama, and so we looked at how we could make an impact here,” Kling said. “So this (hygiene kit) isn’t bright pink, we’re not walking down the hall with everyone knowing what’s going on, but inside this package is what a girl would need to get through the day.”
Kling said studies show that nearly a quarter of girls in the United States cannot afford menstrual products. Others may not have the support system at home to be able to ask for the products, and some may simply be embarrassed to ask for them. Kling said this program hopes to help resolve these barriers for students.
“A college girl goes through a lot, you know, and a girl who’s on her period, having her period, it can be very difficult and very distracting,” Kling said. “If you worry in the back of your mind about how you’re going to handle this, it takes away from the learning, and our goal is for kids to be happy and engaged in classes.”
Free 2 Teach is open year-round as a resource for teachers in Madison County Schools, Madison City Schools, and Huntsville City Schools. Teachers can go to the store and “purchase” free supplies for their classrooms.
Free 2 Teach is a non-profit organization and is entirely funded by grants and donations. Yet since July 2023 alone, she has donated $1.4 million in school supplies to local teachers.
Free 2 Teach hopes the community can help with the Free 2 Learn program. Kling said each feminine hygiene kit costs them about $1.75 to put together.
They encourage anyone interested in helping to consider donating or even setting up a feminine hygiene product drive at their organization, church or workplace. If you would like to set up a supply drive, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.