In August of 2015, I traveled Tanzania with Me to We on a build trip. It was the most amazing experience and I learned so much. I’ve always had a desire to help people and that trip only made it stronger.
I was inspired to do more work and once I got home, I tried brainstorming a few projects to continue my work but, couldn’t think of anything that excited me. Life went on until September of 2016 when I had just started grade 12 and had a spare for the first time. I figured this time could be used to start brainstorming again. While wracking my brain for a project idea, I remembered that when I went to Tanzania, the trip facilitators encouraged us to leave behind some clothes and supplies to donate to the people who worked our staff. Among the items that I left behind was a big bag of pads and tampons that I had packed but hadn’t used. The thought to leave it came at the last second and I remember thinking “I wonder how many people actually think to donate menstrual products”. Upon the recollection of that memory, Crimson Wings was born. It was originally meant to be an international project donating the collected products to the village in Tanzania where I volunteered. Upon further research, I found that homeless women were also in great need of menstrual products and I decided to focus more locally.
I further developed the idea and decided that my end goal was to launch an organization that provides supplies and services to homeless women. Things like education on hygiene and healthy foods that are cheap, places to sleep and shower, as well as menstrual products and other supplies like baby formula. Now, as we all know, all big things start small so I figured the best place to start was with a school group.
Starting in December, I ran a few poorly attended weekly meetings. I was under the impression that I needed a big team to help me with my project so, the lack of interest from my peers was really discouraging. I put the project on hold until I could think of a better way. After the pageant, my flame was rekindled and my motivation went into overdrive. I had to figure out a way to do this by myself. At first, I thought of setting up a table in the atrium of my school at lunch time and collecting individual pieces from passers by but, even that required a whole lot of paperwork and I would have to wait for approval. I simply didn’t have the patience. By this point, I was itching to run the pad drive and I knew that there had to be a better way. I finally decided to run the drive as a community event and collected from my neighbors, friends, teachers, and my mom’s colleagues. I printed some flyers (read the Crimson Wings Pad Drive Flyer here) and passed them out to my community members and donations came pouring in.
Crimson Wings finally became real. On March 30th, I collected all of my donations and packed them into boxes to be donated. The donation ended up going to Joanne’s house, an emergency shelter for youth in Ajax on Saturday, April 8th.
I can’t begin to describe how great it felt to see just how excited the women in my community were about donating. This drive was a small scale “experiment” of sorts that only ran for four days and we still got almost 100 donations. I’ve already approached managers at a few local grocery and drug stores about donating in the next wave and they seem pretty enthusiastic. This was truly an experience of a community of women coming together to help each other. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who donated items and helped to make a difference. I am so excited to run another pad drive and even more excited to see the future of the Crimson Wings Project.