By Shifra Dayak
For The Diamondback
Get Ovary It, a student organization at the University of Maryland dedicated to ending period poverty and stigma, hosted a virtual event called Painting for Periods on Friday.
The event was part of a fundraising effort the organization is holding with Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity at this university, to support the Audelia Community Response Team, a mutual aid network based in Langley Park that aims to provide underserved community members with the resources they need.
Through the fundraiser, which began on Nov. 15 and will run until Dec. 15, Get Ovary It aims to distribute period products to those in need around College Park. Through the initiative so far, more than $250 has been raised.
“The other big thing we’re trying to work towards is having a local impact and having strong ties … within local organizations,” Shika Inala, president of Get Ovary It and a junior physiology and neurobiology major at this university, said of the fundraiser’s goals for this school year.
This summer, Get Ovary It merged with PERIOD., another menstrual advocacy organization at this university.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new, larger organization has shaped its events to fit a virtual environment, and is taking monetary donations that it will use to buy pads and tampons that ACRT will distribute.
In an effort to increase engagement with the virtual drive, McCauley Brown, vice president of Get Ovary It and a junior cell biology and genetics and Spanish major, helped organize the event on Friday, as well as a raffle.
“[We] wanted to do something fun that can also relieve some of the stress that a lot of people are experiencing right now,” Brown said.
Over Zoom, Madaline Alvarenga, a junior public health science major, and Christy Mathew, a junior architecture major, led attendees in creating a period-themed painting.
Tiffany Kamberi, a freshman neuroscience major who recently got involved with Get Ovary It, said attending Painting for Periods was a great introduction to the group.
“There’s so many disparities right now in communities that don’t have access to hygiene products like we do,” she said. “I thought that it was just such a great idea to donate money so that there’d be some kind of funding right now, during a pandemic, to help other people’s needs.”
The fundraiser and paint night are part of a series of initiatives that Get Ovary It has led this year to raise awareness of reproductive issues. In addition to a continued effort to increase accessibility to period products across the campus, Brown said the group is planning on hosting events with other organizations, such as this university’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association. They also hope to hold town halls and start a women’s coalition.
Through the fundraiser and going forward, the group hopes to emphasize the importance of engaging with the broader College Park community, especially since many residents have been affected by the pandemic.
“As college students it’s really easy to come to College Park, live here for a few years, kind of stay within the campus bubble and not really think about what’s going on around us,” Brown said. “But we think that we have a responsibility to get involved in the community that surrounds our campus.”