A local sixth grader has found a unique way to help the girls at her school feel more confident.
Berkeley Smith and her mother Jessica Smith installed the first of many medicine cabinets in the Zaneis Public School girls bathroom earlier this week. Inside the cabinet are several packs of various feminine hygiene products, including pads, tampons and feminine wipes.
“We’ve made about 300 packs so far,” Jessica Smith said. “The first day we put them in, the pads were wiped clean out before I could even get it finished. So it’s definitely a need that hopefully we can fulfill for them.”
Berkeley Smith began attending classes at Zaneis Public School, which serves children from Pre-K through 8th grade, after completing kindergarten. Thanks to how much the school had helped her excel, she said she wanted to find a way to give back to the Zaneis community.
“I felt really blessed by Zaneis and I wanted to do something unique to help out Zaneis and the people in it,” Berkeley Smith said.
The mother-daughter duo started collecting feminine hygiene products for their project, which they are calling  The love. Project, in late August.
“They’re starting younger and younger and you wouldn’t think that it would touch that many people, but it does,” Jessica Smith said.
Pads and tampons are a necessity that can not only be expensive and difficult for some families to afford, but also embarrassing for young girls to have to carry around, Berkeley Smith said.
“I feel like it’s really important to eliminate the embarrassment for girls,” Berkeley Smith said. “If someone were to see them in their bag they might get made fun of. It’s really important just so that they don’t get embarrassed and so that they feel free to use them.”
So far they have only been able to install one medicine cabinet in the Zaneis Public School restroom, but there are plans to place medicine cabinets in girls bathrooms at schools in Tahlequah, Ringling and Wilson.
Ultimately, Berkeley Smith said she hopes that The love. Project can someday expand on a national level.
“It’s a thing that every girl needs,” Berkeley Smith said. “It makes girls feel more confident.”
Items needed include individually wrapped feminine wipes, regular pads and regular tampons. Donations can be made at the Zaneis Public School main office, Harry’s Hometown Grocery in Ringling or 5th & Main Salon in Ringling.
Monetary donations towards purchasing feminine products can also be made by visiting The love. Project Facebook page or by purchasing a ‘love.’ T-Shirt for $18.