By Kamrin Baker
Neighboring businesses in the Dundee neighborhood call it “the wall of tampons,” but Hello Holiday co-owner Megan Hunt calls it her moral responsibility.
The second annual “Girls Support Girls. Period.” menstrual product drive is one of Hello Holiday’s most notable charitable events during the year. Lasting the entire month of December, the drive encourages shoppers and community members to stop by and drop off menstrual products. Pads are highest in demand, but tampons, Diva Cups and feminine sanitary wipes are also welcomed.
In the new year, all the items will be donated to the Lydia House to help people in need; specifically women in domestic crises or in the homeless population.
Hunt says that these kinds of products are extremely necessary and usually the last thing people think about donating during the holiday season. Women who do not have access to menstrual products are more prone to infection and are likely to use what they have on hand, like leaves or paper towels, during their cycles.
“My business partner Sarah Tvrdik and I came to this idea last year,” Hunt says. “Our store stands as a face for women and women’s issues, and we aren’t afraid of a little controversy, but this issue isn’t scandalous. Women bring life into this world, and we ask women to make a decision to bring life into this world, so we better support them while they’re here.”
Hunt says that she and Tvrdik want to make it more normal and visible for people to talk about these issues. Ever since opening Hello Holiday about three years ago, neither of them have been quiet about their political leanings.
In fact, Hunt is running for the Nebraska Legislature, as well. She states that she has always been a political person, and the people around her knew she was destined to run for office one of these days. Being her own boss and an owner of a local business has only helped her connect with constituents, and this menstrual product drive is one of many events that have connected customers with their political sides, though the act of helping women in need is a non-partisan issue.
Hello Holiday welcomed Sen. Wendy Davis to speak last year, and many of Hello Holiday’s products donate money to nonprofits like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. The storefront has also played hostess to many letter-writing campaigns that have allowed consumers to communicate with local politicians.
“It’s a common phrase that ‘the personal is political,’ but I also believe the professional is political,” Hunt says. “We work in cooperation—not competition—with other women-owned businesses. It’s a trend for modern and informed customers to know where their money is going, and we want Hello Holiday to be a place where people feel good about spending their money.”
That being said, Hunt also says she does not feel entitled to other people’s money and feels that most individuals who shop at Hello Holiday would also want to participate in this drive, as well as other community-based events that happen throughout the year.
“If someone has something I don’t, it’s my responsibility to give it to them,” Hunt says. “It’s a hand-up, not a handout, and if people don’t support our business because we have a wall of tampons in our window, I don’t need their hundred bucks.”
Last year, the drive brought in 700 donations, which was the largest single donation the Lydia House had received. This year, Hello Holiday hopes to contribute 1,000 donations. To help the cause, the shop will offer a 25 percent-off-one-item coupon to any community member who brings in a donation. Hunt says every part of this drive is a win because it gets people in the store, while also helping the Omaha community in a tangible way.
“We don’t want a woman’s only eight dollars to go a box of pads when there are people who can help them,” Hunt says. “This drive is about dignity and it’s about solving a problem no person should have to deal with.”
Hello Holiday is located at 5008 Underwood Ave. and will be accepting donations until Dec. 31. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.