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Group collects purses stuffed with items for women's shelters

The Purse Project Network extends to Collingwood with the second-annual charity event coming up Dec. 6
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The Purse Project is back in Collingwood for its second annual event, and this year, organizers hope to increase the impact of the program. 

The event involves collecting donations of new or gently used purses filled with practical personal care items, to be given to women's and children's shelters in the area. It will take place on Dec. 6 from 7-10 p.m. at the Collingwood Legion. The evening will also feature door prizes, a raffle, live music performed by a local band, and a bar service.

“The project has such far-reaching tendrils. It hits so many levels of need for women in our communities,” said Denyse Krizmanich, the Purse Project Network's community ambassador in Collingwood.

The Purse Project Network is an Ontario-wide organization with chapters across different regions, each working towards a common goal: providing essential support to women in need. 

Krizmanich was initially introduced to the project years ago through a friend, but the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When she relocated to Collingwood, she saw an opportunity to make a difference in her new community and jumped at it.

“I thought, I’m moving to a new area, what a great way to get involved,” she said. 

Last year, Krizmanich hosted the first Purse Project in Collingwood, with a goal of collecting 15 purses to donate to the Owen Sound women's shelter. To her amazement, the community's response far exceeded her expectations, resulting in 50 purses. 

This year, Krizmanich has formed a committee of eight women in her neighbourhood, and the initiative has taken on a life of its own. The Collingwood Legion generously donated space for the event, while a local band, Loblaws, and various other businesses have contributed food, door prizes, and more. 

“People are really excited, we’ve had amazing contributions from the community,” she said. 

What sets the Purse Project apart is the thoughtful approach to filling these purses. 

The Purse Project Network provides a list of suggested items to go in the purses, and Krizmanich and her team tailor the contents further based on the specific needs of the shelters they support. This year, the Women's Centre Grey Bruce, which serves a large number of women in Grey and Bruce counties, expressed a need for items for children, so the purses have been tailored accordingly.

"It's such a neat event because women put so much time and love into these purses, they are just stuffed to the brim,” she said. 

The shelter in Grey Bruce has expressed a need for 50 to 60 purses, and Collingwood's Purse Project has already garnered interest from 130 women. Krizmanich said there is also an outpouring of support from women who are not able to attend the event but still want to contribute by donating a purse.

The Collingwood chapter has also recently established a connection with My Sister's Place in Simcoe County, and Krizmanich hopes to expand the project's reach and assist both shelters this year. With the community's overwhelming support, she said they may even be able to extend their help to a third.

“So many women are struggling in our communities,” Krizmanich said. “ I hope we can provide three groups with purses, that would be amazing.”

When asked about the significance of the purses, Krizmanich highlights the importance of women feeling valued and supported, especially during challenging times. The purses serve as a source of self-worth and empowerment for the recipients.

“I think the premise is simply amazing. It is so far-reaching,” she said. 

Every purse also comes with a handmade card and a note of encouragement, reinforcing the idea that every woman is important and cared for.

This year's event aims to collect 175 purses, a goal that Krizmanich said seems attainable given the incredible support from the Collingwood community so far. 

“I’m really excited about how far our reach will be this year. If we can help two, possibly three, different groups, that would be amazing,” she said. 

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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