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On Tuesday morning in Manteca, 16-year-old high school student Mia Mirante walked back and forth in the cold fog, helping to load backpacks containing feminine hygiene bags into a van to be distributed to unsheltered women at the 2022 Point-in-Time count.
The biennial count, mandated in every state, is an attempt to count all of the unsheltered and sheltered homeless people in order to determine how much each county will receive in state and federal funding to address homelessness.
Mirante saw a need to help homeless women in her community after realizing how much menstrual products cost monthly for women.
According to a period product cost calculator created by Polish medical doctor Dominika Miszewska and Julia Zulawinska, a biotechnology student, the average woman spends $9 to $10 buying pads or tampons a month, depending on the country.
Mirante said one day she was walking down the feminine hygiene product aisle in her local Target when she suddenly thought, “These are so expensive … how do people in general afford this, especially homeless women?”
That day, she took on the task of helping women in her community by creating approximately 75 to 80 feminine hygiene bags that they could use during their menstrual cycle.
The Ziploc bags included six pads, six tampons, wet wipes and Advil, which the student paid out of pocket. Also included in the bags were donated hand sanitizers.
“I just want to make a difference in any way I can,” Mirante said.
In the 2019 Point-in-Time count, data indicated that in San Joaquin County there were 2,629 homeless people, with 1,558 being unsheltered, and 14% of them residing in Manteca.