Trail’s Jessica McPhee has already collected 80 purses that have been topped up with goods from the community and are ready to be delivered to women most in need in the community.

Purse campaign spreads holiday cheer to women in need

The bags will soon be shared among local shelters, including some headed for the WINS Transition House.

A Trail care aide has been playing Santa Claus for local women most in need.

Jessica McPhee has already collected over 80 bags and stuffed them with essentials like toothbrushes and soap for a purse campaign started by the Hospital Employees’ Union’s women’s committee, which she co-chairs.

The idea was borrowed and grew quickly with interest through social media. Many local women cleaned out their closets and donated purses while local businesses followed suit with personal hygiene products. McPhee even received toothbrushes and toothpaste from area dentists who wanted to help.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “It’s been really nice to see the community support.”

Her Christmas tree in her Tadanac home is proof of the overwhelming response.

A shiny pink purse holds a toothbrush, floss, shampoo, lotion and other toiletries. Other handbags hold much the same, but each is given some extra love and attention with treats like chocolates, a scarf, or lip gloss.

The bags will soon be shared among local shelters, including some headed for the WINS Transition House.

Willi Coulthard, coordinator of the 10-bed facility in Trail, said those who turn up often come with very little.

“Women living in the transition house are in need of a lot of things that we take for granted,” she said. “Some of them are starting from scratch.”

The safe haven celebrates Christmas with a dinner, which “second-stage” residents often attend. WINS doesn’t budget for the holidays but always manages to pull efforts and donations to spread festive cheer.

“Very often what the residents get as gifts in the transition house are the only presents that they get,” Coulthard added. “I think it means an awful lot to them.”

Anyone interested in donating can reach McPhee via email at lulu_1990@live.ca

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