EAST WENATCHEE — Days for Girls began after founder and CEO Celeste Mergens discovered something while helping at a Kenyan orphanage in 2008.
While the girls were menstruating, they simply sat on cardboard in their rooms. Mergens worked with a company to deliver disposable pads to them, but there wasn't anywhere to dispose of the pads.
Now, Days for Girls produces kits with washable pads. Wenatchee resident Vicki Larson, 67, is one volunteer who helps make kits.
Larson said the kits are distributed around the world, including countries in Africa, the Caribbean and South America. She went to Ghana last January to deliver kits to a school.
"It was a real eye-opener for me," she said. "Actually, Ghana is probably a pretty economically high country in Africa. But this little school, they had 10 classrooms, 10 teachers and 500 students. So it's like 500 kids per classroom."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in East Wenatchee, of which Larson is a member, held a work party this past October for Make a Difference Day. About 25 volunteers sewed bags and contents for the Days for Girls kits.
Each kit includes underwear, homemade pads, soap, a washcloth, instructions for using and washing the pads, a menstrual chart and a bag for dirty pads.
Larson said the goal is to empower girls and help set them up for success.
"These girls are sitting on cardboard for four or five days of the month," she said. "They're not going to school, so in a few months you get really behind, missing a week a month. And at some point, you drop out of school because you are so far behind. So either you marry someone or you work in the fields, and your education stops. ... It's to help them with their education and to be more productive as women."