Kate Mistler, right, and Kristi Lovelady stand outside Walmart Tuesday to collect bras, tampons and sanitary pads for local women in need. Mistler is working to bring the organization I Support the Girls to Whidbey Island to ensure the effort is ongoing. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Kate Mistler, right, and Kristi Lovelady stand outside Walmart Tuesday to collect bras, tampons and sanitary pads for local women in need. Mistler is working to bring the organization I Support the Girls to Whidbey Island to ensure the effort is ongoing. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Oak Harbor woman collects personal items for women in need

Gravity impacts everyone, but for women it can present its unique challenges. Oak Harbor resident Kate Mistler is offering support.

The bra as we know it today was invented in 1914, but females had been using other methods of containment for ages. For most women, they’re considered a necessity. But when clothing drives and donations are made to benefit homeless or low-income people, those items are often overlooked.

Mistler recently learned about the nonprofit organization I Support the Girls, which collects and distributes bras and feminine hygiene products to local women in need.

“It made me feel guilty because it’s something I should’ve thought of before but never did,” she said. “It’s something we take for granted.”

There are 50 affiliates of the organization across the U.S. and abroad, but Mistler noticed lack of presence on the West Coast. She emailed its members and is on her way to becoming an official affiliate.

For now, she’s doing all she can to address the issue but she said she could use help. Last Tuesday she and her friend Kristi Lovelady stood outside Walmart for five hours with a poster board explaining the issue and a box full of bras, sanitary pads and tampons.

“We’re getting the word out, and it’s going better than I anticipated,” Mistler said.

Since then, her efforts have only ramped up. She has arranged to take collections in front of Walmart again Tuesday, March 19; Saturday, April 13 and Saturday, April 27. She placed a garbage bin —- decorated with bright drawings of a bra, tampon and sanitary pad —- for collections in front of her house and will accept donations at any time. She’s been in contact with The Goose Community Grocer in Langley and Payless Foods in Freeland about setting up a table and collecting on the South End as well.

If groups get together and collect several items, she said she’ll pick them up. One of her contributors chooses to remain anonymous and orders donations online and ships them to Mistler, she said.

Every item collected will be distributed locally, she said.

She logs and tracks each product she receives and fills bags with assorted sizes and feminine hygiene products. She has dropped off the collections at the Whidbey Homeless Coalition and Ryan’s House and plans on stopping at the Haven homeless shelter and the Garage of Blessings soon.

She’s hoping more volunteers will step up as the word gets out.

She only learned about I Support the Girls a month ago after watching an episode of the Facebook series “Returning the Favor.”

“I’ve always donated to different causes,” Mistler said, “but I’ve never gotten into it full bore like I am now.”

As she watched the show, she was struck by stories of women using cardboard or newspapers in lieu of sanitary pads. She knows people are sometimes uncomfortable talking about menstruation or bras, but she’s trying to change that because it’s a real issue facing women in the community.

Eventually, she wants to expand the cause to the regional level.

“We are trying to bring awareness here,” she said. “And this is just the beginning.”

• To learn more about donating or volunteering, contact Kate Mistler at 360-678-2090 or paminron@gmail.com. Donations can be delivered or shipped to 1008 Diane Ave., Oak Harbor, WA 98277

More in Life

See caption
Need rises for baking group volunteers

A volunteer coordinator is also being sought for North and Central Whidbey.

memorial
They found a beautiful spot for some good friends to rest

When Jim Sherman and Michael Ferri moved to Coupeville, they brought four old friends with them.

Chewbacca is affectionate, playful and full of energy. He is up for adoption at the Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation after being abandoned in a field off Highway 20 near Coupeville. (Photo provided by Shari Bibich)
‘Chewie’ ready for a home

A very good boy is searching for a forever home after being abandoned in a field off Highway 20.

See caption
Photos: Making a splash

Edmonds resident Janine Harles captured photos of orcas swimming along the Clinton shoreline.

From left, Sarah Gallella, Jill Jackson and Erin Tombaugh take a sip of tea during their bows. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Live theater returns to Whidbey Playhouse with three-woman show

The Playhouse’s first show of the long-awaited season will be “Tea for Three.”

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Cadesha Pacquette sets up a pop-up picnic spread similar to one she created for a young girl’s birthday party. Pacquette said her new venture has been popular with military families celebrating a spouse’s return from deployment, anniversaries or just to have fun outdoors.
Pop-up beach picnics are a popular way to celebrate coming home

Navy wife’s new business a big hit for deployments, anniversaries

Isadora and Mateo Jimenez Campos stop for a picture with the wolf pup mascot. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Coupeville Wolf Pups come back to school

Coupeville students and teachers had their first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Season of live entertainment planned for Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

After a year and a half of online events, WICA is planning a season of indoor, in-person events.

c
Welcome back: Photos from Oak Harbor’s first day of school

Oak Harbor schools had their first day Sept. 9.

Most Read