Hygiene items like deodorant and toothpaste are certainly needed and welcome, but menstrual maintenance items are often considered “luxury” items (thanks, tampon tax!). Meaning, many Atlantans are left without a dignified way of dealing with their cycles each month. Periods are not an exceedingly enjoyable time for most people who menstruate, but the lack of governmental funding to help folks manage can make the regular occurrence downright miserable.

Sarah Belle and the Peach Coven strive to end that, arming the city’s homeless populations with tampons, pads, and liners.

Belle’s a very literal new Atlantan. Originally hailing from Los Angeles and most recently from Tallahassee, Belle landed ITP last fall. A few months into her new residency, Belle got the ball rolling on the Peach Coven, an organization collecting menstrual products for dispersal among Atlanta’s homeless population.

The Peach Coven started modestly, setting up a collection bin at Hodgepodge Coffee House, where Belle was working at the time. Bins started popping up at places like 529, Memorial Tattoo, and The Mammal Gallery; both for specific events and drives as well as more passive residencies. Once a bin fills, Belle explains she and other coven members get together to create “period kits,” its primary donation. Each kit includes a reusable bag stuffed with 15 tampons, 15 liners, and a full pack of sanitary wipes. “We’ll also just do bulk donations where we donate things in their original packaging, and that’s the same deal: I like to at least donate 500-1000 items total, minimum,” she says. Right now Belle and the Coven work most closely with City of Refuge but are building new relationships with other local organizations like Lost-n-Found Youth.

In addition to the crux Peach Coven mission, Belle says the organization is pushing to go legit as an official nonprofit. However, that kind of growth presents another hurdle: funding. “It’s like ‘Oh. You wanna be a nonprofit? Give us some dough,’” she says. Belle says she and the other Coven members are brainstorming fundraising tactics, including throwing events or starting a crowdsourcing website. From there, the goal is to get big companies like Kotex to start donating its products for the Coven to disperse.

Belle invites any individuals interested in supporting the Coven (before it’s legit nonprofit status! So ahead-of-the curve) to email her at thepeachcoven@gmail.com to join an email blast to stay up-to-date on future drives and other ways to help out. “But donating is the best way to help,” she says. “Because if you donate, that’s how we get stuff into the shelters. We can’t do the work we do without the support of all these communities and all these individuals that have been donating to us — because that’s what our work is about.”

The Peach Coven will also be hosting Dignity Thursday, a pad and tampon collection drive with a special DJ set by Kaitlin Turner-Simotics. 8 p.m. Thurs., July 7. The Mammal Gallery, 91 Broad St. S.W.
— Beca Grimm