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Meet Tammi Kollinger of Take Charge. Period.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tammi Kollinger.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tammi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was dropping off donations at the Jewish Family Service Pantry and saw that their menstruation product supply box was empty. I decided to make a run to Walmart to buy some of these products and returned to fill their box of menstrual supplies. Driving home, I saw a young, homeless woman and thought, “I bet she could use some menstruation product so I pulled up to her in my car and asked her if she needed this. She replied that she surely could use help with this and gratefully accepted the emergency supply of tampons that I keep in my car.”

After this experience, I realized that this is a need that is not being addressed by the food pantries and shelters in town. I later found out that no menstrual products can be purchased with government aid such as food stamps. So, I started collecting products to donate to the food pantries serving those in need. In 2014, I collected 100 boxes and donated products to the Jewish Family Service Pantry and the Vickery Meadow Food Pantry (Clothing section). By 2015 we were collecting many more products from various organizations that I reached out to such as women’s groups and religious school classes.

That year, we were able to add Frisco Family Services Pantry and in 2016 Austin Street Center was added to our list of pantries serving the needy. We obtained our 501 (c)(3) status as a non-profit organization in 2016 and currently, we have been given much-needed storage space by the Central Christian Church in the Park Cities. I had been storing the product in my house and having this space is so helpful, Our volunteers are able to go into this storage space during business hours and pick up products to deliver to the four pantries/shelters we serve. It is our goal each month to deliver a minimum of 80 boxes of products to each pantry/shelter we serve.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always frustrations that we can’t provide adequate products to serve everyone who could use them.

Recruiting organizations to collect these products on a regular basis is time-consuming. Time to run this organization is for me sometimes a struggle because, so far, this has been a one-woman organization. Just like many people working and volunteering, my full-time job and taking care of my family compete for the time that I can devote to this organization. Also, the room to store donated products in my home became a problem, not only for the space needed but also access for volunteers to pick up the products to deliver them to pantries/shelters.

We are grateful to Central Christian Church for their generosity in providing us a space to store our products that are available during business hours for our volunteers. I am also aware that it is so important to create publicity materials and encourage public awareness of the need for distribution of menstrual products. This is not only an issue for those who are experiencing homelessness but also those who could benefit from free and easy access to menstrual products in schools, public restrooms and workplaces.

Everyone expects there to be toilet paper and hand dryers, so why not these vital products? A constant struggle is finding a way to reach out to corporations and schools to encourage them to put these products in their restrooms.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Take Charge. Period. – what should we know?
We are fulfilling a specific need in the community that few if any want to discuss or acknowledge. There are many individuals who are currently unable to easily access menstrual products and this severely impacts their ability to fully function in society. We are trying to start this conversation and keep it going.

Not only do we want to collect and distribute menstrual products to those who do not have ready access to them, we want to make this an issue that is important to everyone. Menstruation should be seen by all to be a natural function, not a burden to shy away from and not an illness that can’t be discussed openly. We are proud of our efforts to begin this conversation and address this very important need.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Perseverance and Uninhibited Action. We are addressing an issue that many people might feel embarrassed about or perhaps would hesitate to bring to the forefront of public discussion. This conversation about menstruation and the need for products that allow individuals to continue normal daily function with ease needs to be not only started but continued and heard. The inability to access menstrual products affects many people in need who may not know how or where to go for help in obtaining these products.

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