Bay volunteer's fight to give dignity back to women in need
HERVEY BAY local Anna Lee is dedicated to making a difference to women facing hardship living on the Fraser Coast.
She's on board the Share the Dignity campaign, a not-for-profit organisation providing sanitary items to less fortunate women around the country who are forced to use alternative means of feminine hygiene products during their period.
Anna is one of three volunteers in Hervey Bay who organises drop-off points where people can donate packets of sanitary items that will be delivered to women in need.
"I first got involved after seeing something on Facebook in 2015 about the 'It's in the Bag' Campaign, until then I had never thought about what a women does when they are homeless and have their period," Ms Lee said.
"It can be as simple as buying an extra packet of pads or tampons the next time you're at the supermarket - even one packet will make such a huge difference for a homeless or at-risk woman."
In a first of its kind in Australia, Share the Dignity vending machines called "pink boxes" are being rolled out across the nation, filled with sanitary items that dispense every 10 minutes for free.
"They are machines placed in public locations to supply free sanitary items to women in need. We are hoping it will be a step in the direction that it's a right, not a privilege for all women.
"There are currently 50 machines getting ready to go out in key locations, we are in the process of getting them out, the first one is established in Brisbane and volunteers are looking at different sites to place them around the country."
Share the Dignity's first collection for 2017 began at the beginning of the month and Anna has already collected over 130 donations of sanitary items from generous locals.
In two years over 450,000 packs of pads and tampons have been donated. That's about two million dollars worth of products.
"This drive is looking like it's going to be our biggest as there are a lot more collection sites here than ever before," Anna said.
"All of our donations do stay local, and we have given to organisations around the Fraser Coast."
The organisation was founded in 2015 by a Brisbane woman who was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award.
"Since then it has grown, with over 1,000 volunteers running several different campaigns around the country," Ms Lee said.
"We have two more sanitary drives this year, and every time it has grown. We are slowly getting the word out there.
"Everything is funded through donations, everything that is done is done through grants or people donating money."
Local drop-off points in Hervey Bay and Maryborough include Bank of QLD Hervey Bay, Sissy Bags warehouse, Curves Hervey Bay and Maryborough, DIG HR, Shoe Frenzy, Australian Hearing Hervey Bay and Maryborough, Serenity Skin Spa, Urraween Chemart, and Apache Beauty.
To donate or to become a volunteer head to Share the Dignity's official Facebook page or Share the Dignity website.
The collection points will be opened until the end of April this year.