Tampons, menstrual pads and other feminine hygiene items arrived by the hundreds at the Metro Nashville Public Schools warehouse in South Nashville on Saturday afternoon. 

In all, more than 100,000 products were collected during the month-long Nashville Period Project. Lakisha Simmons, a professor who founded The Achiever Academy, orchestrated the drive when she learned that some high school students routinely miss classes because they can’t afford the products. 

“When we discovered there were young ladies missing school because of personal hygiene, we thought there’s no way they should miss school,” Barbara Jones, of The PEARL Foundation, said as she delivered shopping bags full of items. “We wanted to make sure they had the appropriate items to go to school.”

An article in the Tennessean highlighting the issue prompted community leaders to join the effort. Donations poured in throughout the month, as Simmons; Rep. Brenda Gilmore, a Nashville Democrat; and her daughter, Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, sought to alleviate the issue. 

The products will be delivered to some of the city’s poorest students in low-performing schools. “We have over 35 teams of women helping — from places of worship, the commercial real estate industry, Belmont University, TSU and others,” Simmons said. “We’re going to distribute them to Title 1 middle and high schools. They have the most need to stay in school and prevent truancy.” 

Alice Rolli, an Edgehill resident, said people in the community were eager to help when she asked. 

“We picked donations up at neighborhood meetings and people Amazon Primed them to my house,” Rolli said. “I think we gave the delivery guy a workout.”

Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Community Achieve program will work to distribute the items.

“We want to remove any barriers to learning,” said Community Achieve Director Alison McArthur. “We’re in 19 schools now, and we’re going to be able to serve many more with these donations.”

Simmons said she will continue to do the work through empowerment classes at schools around the county. 

“I want to educate girls on reusable products and to advance policies,” she said. “I want them to be empowered to set goals, dream big and see themselves bigger than where they are.”

How to help

In Nashville: For more information on how to participate in the Nashville Period Project Challenge, contact Dr. Lakisha Simmons at [email protected].

Donate pads and tampons to On The Dot through to arrange a donation pick up. 

In Franklin: Feminine care products or financial donations for The Nook can be made by contacting Executive Director Jenn Morrison at [email protected].