MEMPHIS – Joris Ray, Shelby County Schools assistant superintendent for operations, recently said that period-related poverty shames many girls into missing school, because they or their families can’t afford sanitary products.

Other issues, like not having a clean change of underwear or clothes at home, or, in some instances, even a toothbrush, also cause girls and boys to stay home — to avoid the bullying and humiliation that go along with that.

That’s why Ray and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity held a drive to collect sanitary products and underwear for youths in the school system. They did that to combat a problem that keeps too many youths — girls especially — away from the one thing that can help them escape the poverty that nearly 50 percent of African-American youths in this county live with.