MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - International Paper is helping to address a critical need in Shelby County Schools--feminine hygiene.
"There are girls that miss school every month because they don't have the access to these products,” said Cathy Slater with International Paper.
During the 2017-2018 school year, Shelby County Schools' truancy rate was 37.2 percent. District leaders say period poverty played a major role in that number.
“You’re talking about girls as early as 9 years old who started their menstrual cycles, that means they could miss up to a week a month of school,” said Shelby County Schools Director of Family and Community Engagement Dr. Lori Phillips.
Nationwide, it’s estimated one in five girls miss school due to a lack of feminine care products.
On Thursday, dozens of International Paper employees packed feminine hygiene kits for young girls attending Shelby County Schools. More than a hundred boxes were packed, which included $10,000 worth of products.
"No young lady can say they can't come to school or they don't have adequate supplies. They no longer have to just get one item. They get enough for the week if they want to,” said Dr. Phillips.
The boxes will be placed in “safe spaces” throughout schools for young girls to have access to.
"Females now need these products because they can’t afford it or they’re probably too embarrassed to go to somebody to actually give them the product,” said Aryianna Chapman, a Ridgeway High School student.
Dr. Phillips says the next step is helping families and mothers who may not have access to these products.
"We truly care not only for our students, but for our families of Shelby County. Our families in Memphis as well,” said Phillips.