CORONA — Students at a neighborhood high school won't have to worry about the "embarrassing" process of searching for feminine products this school year thanks to a health company that will supply them for free.
The High School for Arts and Business, near 108th Street and the Horace Harding Expressway, is the first in a pilot program from health care company Hospeco to offer pads and tampons in its first-floor girls bathroom.
The company reached out first to Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who earlier this summer pushed for the city to provide them in public schools.
"Schools should be able to provide pads and tampons like toilet paper," Ferreras-Copeland said.
She later added that this small idea "is important to the lives of women in a major way."
John Marbach, the northeast director of sales at Hospeco, said officials saw the media coverage for the initiative and hoped to install a free dispenser in a public school with the councilwoman's help.
It's the first program offered by the national brand, and the company hopes the Corona school sets an example for others like it across the country, Marbach said.
"We see this pilot program as something that would eventually expand across the city and state," he said, adding that it's costing the company a few thousand dollars for the dispenser and free refills throughout the year.
Ferreras-Copeland first took on the cause after finding many students, especially the neediest, would stay home from school when they had their periods because they couldn't afford proper products.
Teachers and administrators at the small high school — which is 57 percent female — said they'd pay for pads and tampons out of their own pockets to make sure students had access to them.
The free dispenser is just one less thing for female students to stress over, they said.
"It's one thing on your mind that you don't have to worry about," Principal Ana Zambrano-Byrakov said.
Students pose in front of a new dispenser that provides free feminine hygiene products. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
Many students, including boys, agreed.
"It is kind of annoying to carry around and ask someone for a pad, and you have to slip it out of class," Aracely Osorio, 17, said. "It can be embarrassing."
"Now that we have this in the bathroom it just makes life 100 times better," said Celine Sierra, 17, the school's student body president.
"It's a good thing for them," said Thomas Allen, 16. "We already have the convenience of everything we need. It'll help a lot of young ladies when they don't have what they need on them."
Zambrano-Byrakov said the school is dedicated to providing equal opportunities to its male and female students, and this program helps level the playing field.
"It's good that a company pays attention to the basic things girls need," she said.