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Serving Homeless Women

  • Paige Sanders BA '17 and Ashley Garber BA '18

What’s the first thing you put on in the morning? Hopefully, it’s clean underwear.

While interning at a downtown homeless shelter in 2015, Paige Sanders BA ’17 and Ashley Garber BA ’18 saw that Portland’s homeless women didn’t have access to the critically important, and often overlooked, necessity of clean undergarments. And thus, the Portland Panty Project was born: a nonprofit organization that “aims to provide 1,000 homeless women with two pairs of underwear and one bra apiece.”

“Paige and I noticed a lack of size-appropriate undergarments while working as interns at Operation Nightwatch, a homeless hospitality center,” says Garber. “We believe it is socially unacceptable and unhealthy for women to go without clean undergarments.”

Last year, the Portland Panty Project achieved nonprofit status, enabling Sanders and Garber to pursue government grants to continue their mission. They have also raised money through a GoFundMe campaign.

In 2016, both Sanders and Garber were recipients of Lewis & Clark’s Student Leadership and Service Outstanding Undergraduate Service Award. In addition, the Portland Panty Project was featured in the Oregonian and ranked in Willamette Week’s “Best of Portland” 2017 listing.

—by Mara Sleeter BA ’19

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