The nonprofit Crescent Montana, started and run by Montana State University students, will hold a music festival on Oct. 19 to raise money to place free feminine hygiene products in school bathrooms to help low-income girls and women.

The “That Time of the Month” music festival will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. that Saturday at Townshend’s Teahouse on East Main Street. The event, free and open to the public, will feature local music acts.

“Period poverty is a problem everywhere,” said Abby Bernard, an MSU American studies major and Crescent Montana board member.

She said her own grandmother grew up poor on an Indian reservation and missed out on school when she had her period.

“Toilet paper is free in bathrooms,” Bernard said. “Why shouldn’t pads and tampons be free?”

Advocates from across the country intend to hold rallies and events on Oct. 19 for National Period Day.

Crescent Montana plans to raise money at the music festival through a silent auction, live printmaking by local artist Thea Keene, selling T-shirts and prints and donations. The Pacific People and MSU’s Rhapsody will perform.

Jessica Brito, an MSU student and Crescent president, said one goal of the music event is to reach a wider audience. “This is something that we can all work to fix.”

Brito cited a national gynecological study that found 50% of low-income women struggled to afford food and period products in the past year.

The Always brand has also reported that as many as one in five American girls misses school because of lack of access to menstrual products.

“For many women it means a choice between basic hygiene and getting an education,” Brito said in a press release. “We believe that it is important to show all students in Montana that menstruation should not be stigmatized and should never be a deciding factor in the quality of their education.”

Crescent started working last spring with Bozeman High School and plans to expand to schools in Belgrade and Livingston to provide hygiene products in school bathrooms, said Owen Burroughs, an MSU student and board member.

Members put products in dispensers covered with artwork to make them more inviting. More information is available at the group’s website, www.crescentmt.org.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2633. Follow her on Twitter @gailnews.

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