Downtown Brandon church provides accessible period, hygiene products to women in need
Red box located on side of downtown church stocked with hygiene products
The city of Brandon is home to little lending libraries and a little art gallery — places where people can take and leave books and art for others to enjoy.
Now, a church in the southwestern Manitoba city's downtown core has set up a similar sort of initiative — this one meant to provide women in need with hygiene products.
The Red Box at St. Matthew's Anglican Cathedral is stocked with pads, tampons, tissues and even clean underwear for those who might need them.
"When we talk about this project with members of the community and members of our own parish, there's an immediate connection," said Don Bernhardt, the dean of St. Matthew's.
"People, ladies who have been caught without supplies when they needed them, they instinctively know that this is important."
The red mailbox is attached to the cathedral at 13th Street and Louise Avenue.
He said the idea came from the Red Box Project, which started in the United Kingdom after governments in England, Scotland and Wales began providing period products to all public schools and colleges.
The project aims to raise awareness and make sure schools across the United Kingdom adopt similar practices.
Bernhardt said the church wanted to provide period products to anyone in Brandon who find themselves in need.
"This is an opportunity for people who wouldn't be able to access this sort of product otherwise to come here and to take what they need, when they need it," he said.
Bernhardt said supplies are stocked by members of the church, but there has been an outpouring of support from others in Brandon who have asked how they can help.
He said members of the parish saw the need for the hygiene supplies in the box first-hand late last month, after a fire at a condominium complex in Brandon.
The blaze at the 47-unit building left dozens homeless, most escaping with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing.
Berhnardt said the 20 kits the church had stocked in the box were all gone that night.
"I was thankful to see it used in way like that," he said.
"It's not just for our vulnerable folks, it's for anybody who's sort of caught and needs these sorts of products.… [They] are welcome to come and get them."
LISTEN | Dean Don Bernhardt tells CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon about the Red Box:
The box is located outside the church, to the right of the cathedral's main doors off of 13th Street.
"It's accessible to anybody any time, day or night," Bernhardt said.
With files from Marjorie Dowhos