A half dozen volunteers work side by side to put together “period kits” with essential supplies for low-income women in need.
“They include 25 pads. Sometimes we’ll bring liners and tampons with us, because we get requests for those, but typically we find that our clients prefer just the pads,” said Jackie Leavenworth, program director for Keeping Families Covered, a non-profit with locations in Lake and McHenry counties.
“Half the population has a period, but not everyone knows that one in four individuals struggles to afford period products,” said Ann Marie Mathis, the founder of Keeping Families Covered.
Mathis started the non-profit in 2010.
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“I think it really started with an idea and a collection of items that I had from my own children and then slowly evolved from there,” Mathis said.
A mom of seven, Mathis has made it her mission to supply basic necessities to low-income families.
“We’re probably most known for our diaper distribution program. That is our flagship program, so we currently distribute over 140,000 diapers every month and period products would be our second largest program,” Mathis said.
So far in 2023, Keeping Families Covered has donated 75,000 period products to the community, anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 each month.
“There’s people who wouldn’t be able to thrive as well as they’re thriving without us and it’s good to be a part of their story,” Leavenworth said.
Anyone can drop off donations at the group’s warehouse at 3250 N. Oak Grove Ave. in Waukegan or buy online through Amazon or Target wish lists and get the items sent directly to Keeping Families Covered.
“We distribute our items through two channels, community partners, which we have 50 here in Lake County and we also do direct to client service. We also have an office in McHenry County and we have 20 partners as well out there,” Mathis said.
Keeping Families Covered also accepts children’s clothing, maternity wear, children’s books and baby formula -- essentials that Mathis knows can add up.
“It’s stressful enough to be a parent, but when you lack the necessities it’s even harder and I think it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to do this for families,” Mathis said.