When you put together a few community activists who happen to care about homeless women — and who also have a sense of humor -- you end up with an event like Mardi Bras. Mardi Bras will have a booth during the Mardi Gras parade Feb. 7 so that parade-goers may donate a plethora of items for the female homeless population – a group whose needs generally go unmentioned. And consequently, unmet.

“One of the hardest things for a homeless woman is getting her period. I have donated supplies to the local shelters and, as a woman; I was disappointed that this need had never crossed my mind before,” said Brandy Chewning-Lewis, who will be operating the booth.

“A woman's period is a taboo topic, but it shouldn't be. For us, it's a part of everyday life and I'm excited to see the women of our community supporting women in need.”

Jennifer Laurent, Executive Director of Randy Sam’s Outreach Center, agreed that items such as bras, panties, pads and tampons are some of the fewest ever donated.

"It's an everyday need that goes forgotten," she said. "Right now there are 17 women in our shelter and every single one has some need or another that's not being addressed,” she said.

Community activist, Cathy Brown Smith, volunteered to set up a booth and accept donations at the Mardi Gras parade in order to raise awareness of this issue. “It has been suggested that this is a subject that should not be talked about in ‘polite society.’ There is nothing polite about being homeless. Let alone homeless, on your period, and unable to find or afford the products you need. We intend to address that need.”

One of the ways the group is addressing that need is by raising funds before the Feb. 7 parade even begins. To donate to the group’s efforts to help the homeless, click HERE.

Chewning-Lewis said the group will accept new and gently used bras and added that she hopes Mardi Bras can become an annual event.

“It gives us an opportunity to show women in need that they are important.”

For more information, see the group’s Facebook page.