'Purses with Purpose' Help Women in Need

Collection drive aims to help those who seek refuge with basic necessities

An interesting and thoughtful initiative being spearheaded by a local teacher is gathering basic necessities in order to help out women in need.

Karla Duchesne, who teaches Grade Six at Outlook High School, was browsing on social media one day and came across an idea called ‘Purses with Purpose’, which she then brought to the school in order to see how the ‘Home of the Blues’ can help.  The initiative involves collecting old purses that have been donated, as well as handbags and backpacks, and filling them with any number of basic hygiene products such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap, brushes, tampons & pads, or even small snacks.

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Duchesne hoped it was something the community would get on board with.

“One day I was looking on social media, and I’m always looking at different social justice initiatives, and I saw this one called ‘Purses with Purpose’,” said Karla, speaking to The Outlook at last week’s FolkFest held at the school.  “From then, I thought that I’d bring this back to the school and see if we can get the school community engaged in doing this.  At this time of year, we need to look after our more vulnerable people, and with the big Movember campaign going on and so many other things going on, I just thought, ‘Let’s focus on women’.  Everybody has old purses laying around and this, that and the other thing, and it’s been great.  Lots of support from the school community, lots of support from businesses – Co-op gave us a $200 gift card to go and buy stuff, and AG Foods donated a bunch of granola bars and that sort of thing.  Every day, women from our community are bringing things.”

It’s said that women who have no choice but to seek refuge at shelters typically arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and any number of simple items can help make a big difference for them in their time of need.

It’s easy to get involved in this rather unique collective drive.  Do you have an old purse, handbag or backpack laying around that’s still in good shape?  Perfect.  You can donate that by itself, or if you want to go the extra mile and fill it with any number of products, the recipients would be ever the more grateful, as would Duchesne and everyone at OHS.

After the purses and items have been collected at the school, Karla says they’ll be headed to the city to be gifted to women who could use them.

“What we’re doing with the purses afterward is taking them up to Saskatoon and taking them to some different inner-city shelters and those types of organizations,” she said.  “I also want to be on the street and have communications with our sisters who are on the street and gifting them with purses and having a conversation with them.  I also want to be in contact with some First Nations organizations within Saskatoon and see if we can help somewhere in there, too.”

The school will be collecting items until the middle of next month, at which point Karla aims to get everything ready and delivered in the hopes that they can be of some benefit to women in need during the holiday season.

“We started it about a week ago and so far, we probably have two garbage bags worth of purses,” she said.  “Co-op with a cash donation and AG Foods providing snacks, and my Facebook inbox is just blowing up and constantly beeping with people wanting to help out.  Our cut-off date will be December 13 and hopefully we’ll get everything in before Christmas for people in need.”

If you wish to donate to this cause, purses and/or items can be dropped off in the main office at Outlook High School.

© The Outlook

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