By: Tanya Edwards

If you’ve heard about the “Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign,” you know about Angel Freedman and how she lit a fire in Newmarket five years ago, encouraging local business owners and citizens to help fill purses for women and youth in crisis. That flame has caught on locally, and volunteers are collecting and filling purses for shelters and crisis centers across Georgina.

Geraldine Nerdjivanian’s “Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign – Georgina” on Facebook is in full swing with helpful guidelines for donating new or gently used purses and suggestions for purse fillers. The campaign runs until December 1st, so start filling those purses!

Most needed are personal care items like shampoo, body wash, tampons and pads, small joys like tweezers, nail files, chapsticks and band-aids to more age-appropriate items like denture supplies, panty liners, small puzzle books, a flashlight or a cash donation – it doesn’t have to be big, choose what works with your budget.

This is Ms. Nerdjivanian’s first year leading the campaign in Georgina, but she hopes to donate more than 150 purses to local shelters. She says a simple thing like a purse can have a big impact on a woman or youth in crisis.

“A lot of times they may feel alone without support,” she says. “So we encourage adding a personal note, a little inspirational message. Just to say, you know what, we’ve got you. We’ll help you through.”

Local recipients of the donations include: Sandgate Women’s Shelter, Women’s Support Network (Rape Crisis Centre), Rose of Sharon and Sutton Youth Shelter

Geraldine Nerdjivanian with Stephanie Tinker

Several local businesses are supporting the “Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign” by volunteering to be drop-off centers for donations: Twigs Gardens & Co., 10 The Queensway S, Unit 2; Cakes by Jez, 672 The Queensway S, both in Keswick; and Sweet Pea Accessories, 130 High St in Sutton.

Jeysabel Pearson-MacKinnon, owner Cakes By Jez.

Leeann Murray-Lake also believes the gift of purse can boost the confidence of a woman who is struggling to rebuild her life.

She joined “Nurses with Purses,” a group of Oncology nurses at Southlake Regional Health Center, a continuation of the Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign.

Ms. Murray-Lake encourages friends, workmates, her kid’s hockey coaches, sisters, even misters to donate.

She asks for hair care products, personal care, known or store brand sanitary products, razors, toothbrushes, a pretty scarf, warm gloves or cash to buy the supplies needed.

Last year, Ms. Murray-Lake’s efforts resulted in 46 filled purses; this year, her personal goal is 100. Though the majority of her donations go to shelters in Lindsey, shelters in Georgina have also received donations.

Leeann Murray-Lake with donated purses

To most women, a purse can hold your world, protect your personal and private property, reflect individual style and help lift your chin a little. Younger women have suggested backpacks which they find more age and style appropriate.

National statistics show that 91 percent of the women that enter a shelter or crisis center are there because of domestic violence, child protection or housing issues. Filling a purse for a sister in crisis is a sure way to spread kindness, and we all know the world needs more kindness.

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