Lansing at Large: Students take Lansing’s “Days for Girls” kits to the world

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On April 26 and 27, more than 100 “Sewing Saints” gathered in the parish hall at All Saints church to assemble reusable feminine hygiene kits to be taken to the Dominican Republic and Malawi by Cornell and Ithaca College students.
On May 20, Cornell Hockey Head Coach Mike Schafer and seven of his players will take kits to the Dominican Republic for distribution and, on May 26, Ithaca College nurses Erica Weiss and Mary Taylor will lead seven students to mobile medical clinics in Malawi to deliver kits there.


In more than 100 countries, a shortage of feminine hygiene products means that a woman’s menstrual period represents one week from every month lost from school or work, and isolation from their community. This project is part of the “Days for Girls” organization’s efforts to get that week back.


“We will be taking kits for young women and for post-partum women,” Weiss said. “The last time we delivered the kits, the women went crazy. They said ‘Wow this is great, bring some more.’ So, we’re bringing more.”


Schafer and his team will bring the kits to schools organized by former All Saint’s Pastor Father Ron Gaesser. Gaesser created the Portal de Belen Foundation in 2001 and moved to the Dominican Republic when he retired to oversee the construction of schools, day nurseries, and chapels in Monte Plaza and surrounding areas.


This will be the second time Schafer has delivered kits to the schools. “Three years ago, we brought 140 kits to the local schools,” Schafer said. “It’s a perfect opportunity to see the kits in the hands of the girls in the schools. It’s a phenomenal program.”


“Culturally, this is not talked about,” Schafer said. “This provides the girls with a way to get to school and the women to get to work. It makes a tremendous impact.”


Schafer will bring five players on the trip: freshman Zach Bramwell; sophomores Kyle Betts, Cody Haiskenen, and Brendan Locke; and junior Jeff Mallot.


“This presents a great opportunity for the players,” Schafer said. “They play hockey so much that they haven’t been able to do things like study abroad like other students do.”


Schafer and his players will bring shoes, clothes, and computers to the schools and build churches, latrines, playgrounds, water pumps, and nursing stations while there.


“We see what we can do to make their lives better,” he said.


The Cornell Women’s Ice Hockey team were part of the assembly line cutting, ironing, sewing, and serging the kits, according to local project leader and All Saints parishioner Andra Benson.


A drawstring bag holds each kit. In it are enough pads for a week, soap and a washcloth, clean underwear, plastic bags for soiled materials, and instructions. With care, the kits should last three years.


Benson started the “Sewing Saints” in 2013 in response to a request from the Cornell College of Human Ecology for help on the project. “We’ve sent kits to Kenya with Archbishop Charles Balvo and to Guatemala with our youth mission,” she said.


According to “Days for Girls,” school absence rates where the kits are distributed dropped from 38 percent to eight percent in Uganda, and from 25 percent to three percent in Kenya. Local people are making the kits themselves in eight countries.


You can learn more about the Days for Girls organization and its impact at daysforgirls.org; you can sign up to help at the next local event by e-mailing Andra at lansingny@daysforgirls.com.

In brief:

Library vote results
The annual budget for the Lansing Community Library and three trustees were approved by voters April 30. Newly elected trustees are: Christina Forties; Elizabeth Gossett; and Maureen Trowbridge. Kelly Miller and Alaina Redsicker won the annual summer reading program logo contest.

“Little Red” at the Middle School
Lansing Middle School presents the beloved fairy tale turned to comedy, “Little Red: Life in the Hood” May 8 to 10 at 6:30 p.m. and May 11 at 2 p.m. Thirty-four middle school students will delight the audience as they make their way in the enchanted woods on the way to Grandmother’s house.


Come experience the fun with Little Red Riding Hood, her Mother, and Grandmother. Watch the Wolf as he makes a decision about his eating choices. Hear the Three Little Pigs challenge each other with building techniques and play poker. Come buy insurance from the trusted trio of Chicken Little, Henny Penny, and Turkey Lurkey. Who will help those Three Little Kittens find their mittens? Are Squirrels and Bunnies voters or food? Join Talk Show Host, Terry Tellus, as she takes us on a journey through three versions of the iconic fairy tale.


The show is directed by Audrey Hummel, Kimberly Williamson, and Julie MacMartin. Light design is by John Phillips and set design by Lee Ianone. General admission is $7 and tickets are available at the door. The show is appropriate for children of all ages.

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