By: Michelle Poirier

The Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign helps raise awareness of domestic violence and intimate partner violence, all while collecting a purse filled with necessities for women in shelters.

“Domestic violence is on the rise during COVID, because women are more isolated,” said founder Angel Freedman, who is kicking-off the campaign’s 6th annual drive, which runs from September 1 to December 1.

Ms. Freedman, a resident of Stouffville, is a social worker and an advocate for women facing domestic violence. She said she got the idea for the campaign, which continues to grow each year, after receiving a Facebook link about a Texas woman running a purse donation campaign.

“It was 11:30 at night six years ago, and I said yes, this is a good thing, I think I’ll call it Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign. So I made a Facebook page, and I collected 1,500 purses in my living room,” she said.

The following year she collected 3,000 purses, and the campaign continued to grow as more and more people heard about it. Last year 10,000 purses were collected across Canada.

“Social media is a beautiful thing,” she said.

Geraldine Nerdjivanian, a resident of Baldwin, is the Community Lead for Georgina for the second year. As Community Lead, she is responsible for setting-up the drop-off locations, collecting the purses and storing them until December.

She said she volunteered to become Community Lead after donating purses in previous years and wanting to do more.

“Georgina is such a fantastic and generous community. I knew that bringing the campaign here would bring awareness,” she said.

Last year, Georgina residents surpassed her goal of 150 purses and ended up donating 185. This year, Ms. Nerdjivanian hopes to donate over 200 purses.

Geraldine Nerdjivanian (left) collects purses

There are three drop-off locations in Georgina, one in Sutton at Sweet Pea Boutique, 130 High Street, and two in Keswick at Twig Gardens & Co, 10 The Queensway South, and Auntie M’s Closet, 482 The Queensway South #2.

COVID-19 guidelines are in place at all drop-off locations. When dropping a purse off, you should be wearing a mask, keeping a physical distance from others, and using hand sanitizer.

The drop off locations have a bin lined with a clear plastic bag; once the bag is full, they have to close the bag and put it away for at least 72 hours.

The purses collected in Georgina will be donated to Sandgate Women’s Shelter in Sutton and other women’s shelters and crisis centres in York Region.

Ms. Freedman said she called Yellow Brick House, a shelter in Richmond Hill, to make sure they would still accept purses during the pandemic, and they told her they were needed more than ever.

“A simple thing like a purse can make such a big impact on someone who escaped abuse and is left with nothing. It’s helping a sister in need and letting her know we have her back,” Ms. Nerdjivanian said.

If you would like to donate a gently used or new purse, include contents like shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a hairbrush, and feminine hygiene products. You can also add a coffee shop gift card, and, perhaps, a note to give hope.

If you do not have a purse to donate, you can also send an e-transfer donation to angelfreedman@rogers.com.

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