Women’s “HERstory” Month Committee Hosts Feminine Hygiene Products Drive


Elliot Zopatti

Jamie Cochran, Women’s HERstory Month committee member, inside the Falcon Community Outreach Center, holding a collection bin of supplies from the Feminine Hygiene product drive.

The conclusion of March also means the conclusion of Fitchburg State University’s celebration of Women’s History Month, and the month-long Feminine Hygiene Products Drive to benefit the Falcon Bazaar, Fitchburg State’s Necessity and Food Pantry. The drive was sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness, and planned by the Women’s “HERstory” Month committee.

The Women’s HERstory Month Committee this year was comprised of Jamie Cochran, Shane Franzen, Fran Menendez-Aponte, and Lisa Lapidus. Jamie Cochran, Coordinator for the Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness, referred to their group as being “small but mighty!”

When asked how the idea for the feminine hygiene product drive came about, Jamie Cochran explained that it started with the idea of doing something that would run for the entirety of Women’s History month.

“One of our committee members [Shane Franzen, Associate Director of Student Development, Commuter and Volunteer Affairs] is in charge of the Falcon Bazaar,” says Cochran. “So I said to Shane, ‘Is there anything that you need in the Falcon Bazaar for women?’ So we took a walk down there, and I noticed they had very limited supplies of actual feminine hygiene products. So it all just fell into place from there.”

As a result, the month-long feminine hygiene product drive was born. Pink collection bins were set up outside the Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness, at the Information Desk, and in the Housing and Residental Services office. Donations collected includes sanitary pads, tampons, and sanitary wipes. The products collected during this drive will be inventoried and added to the vast collection of supplies available inside of the Falcon Bazaar.

The Falcon Bazaar is not just your typical Food Pantry, but instead a smaller portion of the Falcon Community Outreach Center (FCOC). The FCOC opened last semester in October 2022 as a partnership between the Falcon Bazaar, the professional clothing closet, and the Volunteer Center to better meet the needs of the student body.

“I want the students to know it’s beyond just a food bank.” said Cochran. “It’s so much more than that. It’s not just for people in dire need. Besides SpaghettiOs, you can get tampons, you can get toothpaste, and you can even get a cool tie!”

This rebranding also brings a new larger location in Hammond G23, just a little bit down the hallway from the Falcon Bazaar’s previous location. The new location houses all of these services into one convenient spot for student access. The new space is lined with shelves full of canned goods, granola bars, poptarts, snacks, sanitary products, condiments, cooking supplies, shower supplies, tissue boxes, hand sanitizer, and soap, as well as an extra-large refrigerator and gigantic freezer.

The new space also houses multiple clothing racks full of dress shirts, blouses, pants, belts, ties, skirts, and socks, as well as a separate changing room for students who are utilizing the professional clothing closet.

Accessing supplies from the FCOC is available at no cost to the students of Fitchburg State University. Cochran went on to explain that she feels that a lot of students don’t utilize the FCOC because of the stigma surrounding it.

“People are afraid they’re going to be looked at differently for coming here, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nobody even knows you come here! The only information collected from a student when they visit is what items they are taking and their OneCard number. Once the inventory is updated, the papers with the collected information are shredded.” Cochran explained. “The only exception would be if Shane notices the same OneCard number checking in extremely frequently, then he might reach out to that person to make sure everything is okay, and connect them to more resources if needed.”

During the Summer of 2022, the air conditioning inside the Hammond Hall Campus Center—the building that houses the Falcon bazaar—stopped working, which resulted in the building closing down for an extended period of time. During that time, a large portion of the food inside the Falcon bazaar either expired or spoiled due to the temperature.

“We had to throw away everything. It was a real tragedy. What you see here now is what we’ve managed to build back up since the beginning of the school year. It just warms my heart”

If interested in accessing the Falcon Community Outreach Center, students can stop by during the walk-in hours of 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Students will have to stop by the Office of Student Development in Hammond G13 to gain access to the space. Students are also welcome and encouraged to make donations. There is a Falcon Bazaar wish list on the Fitchburg State University website with specific items that are heavily requested, or frequently need to be replenished.