More than 11,000 people in Louisiana are moving into shelters after devastating floods this week, and many of them would be without essential hygiene products if not for Simply The Basics.
The organization has been providing tampons and pads for homeless women in the Bay Area since 2015, when founder Meghan Freebeck raised enough money and products in 48 hours to provide for every homeless female in San Francisco. As a follow-up to our story on Simply The Basics this morning, we spoke with Freebeck about her cause — and its expanding reach.
Only in its second year as an organization, Simply The Basics took things to the next level when it decided to send relief to women in Louisiana, although the organization had no prior experience working in the region.
"Hundreds, if not thousands, of women at this very moment in Louisiana are having their periods and are concerned about what to do when that final tampon in their purse is gone and they cannot get safely to an open store with any remaining," Freebeck told A Plus in an email. "When a person does not have access to feminine hygiene, pads, tampons, cups, etc., she has to resort to less healthy and potentially infectious options."
It actually wasn't even in Simply The Basics' plan to get involved in disaster relief for a few years, but — as Freebeck said — "the universe had other plans." When this crisis happened, the organization decided to push its plans up a few years and began asking shelter and relief locations what kind of products they were short on.
Along with feminine hygiene products, Simply The Basics sent soaps, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, new socks, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Perhaps most impressively, the organization decided to step up for a state that was thousands of miles away from the community they typically serve.
Simply The Basics
"We believe that 'community' and 'regionality' are not mutually exclusive," Freebeck said. "You do not need to be local to feel like a part of a community, and we also know that there is not a single corner of the world that is immune to natural disasters."
She emphasized that Simply The Basics wants to step up not just for floods in Louisiana, but blizzards in Chicago, earthquakes in California, and so on. In fact, people as far as Poland have reached out to Freebeck in order to donate money and products to her cause.
"The world becomes a very small, connected place when we help lift each other up!" she wrote.
Simply The Basics' far-reaching generosity is reminiscent of that of so many: the 7-year-old girl who opened a lemonade stand for Syrian refugees, the San Francisco 49ers who donated to a North Carolina LGBT group, the 15-year-old girl who fought cancer with thousands of dollars donated by total strangers. And it reminds us that you don't have to be someone's neighbor to be there when they need you.
For Freebeck, the experience of interacting with resilient Louisianians has been amazing, but it's the generosity of strangers aiming to help that moves her more than anything else. The program is entirely volunteer run, so every dollar goes to the cause.
Simply The Basics
So far, Simply the Basics has raised over $500 and sent more than 1,000 products to Louisiana, and it's only the third day of its push. The goal is to send 200 completed hygiene kits with all hygiene items in reusable tote bags, in addition to as many boxes of feminine hygiene products as possible.
"When we receive a donation to our cause from a stranger, and I get a notice that this person from across the country cares and gave their hard-earned money, the connection that allows us to feel to the rest of the world is immeasurable," she said. "I am so grateful to the world we live in where above all else, people will step up and help one another."