DeKALB – This Christmas, instead of asking for a new purse, Colleen Bredeson is gifting a purse full of items to a woman in need at Safe Passage.
Bredeson, the Community Outreach coordinator for Voluntary Action Center, is helping organize the third annual Christmas Purse Project benefiting Safe Passage.
Until Friday, Dec. 15, VAC is collecting new or gently used purses and toiletries, jewelry, small gifts and gift cards to fill the purses. The purses will be delivered to Safe Passage the following week in time for Christmas.
Items can be dropped off at VAC, 1606 Bethany Road in Sycamore, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or at the DeKalb Community Center, 330 Grove St. in DeKalb, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Friday. Items also can be arranged to be picked up by emailing Bredeson at email@example.com.
Bredeson met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss the Christmas Purse Project and the items that are being collected.
Milton: How did the event start?
Bredeson: The collection was the idea of our executive director here at VAC, after an event that was held in her hometown. It’s a great event because we have a lot of participation from individuals or organizations and workplaces. Last year, we collected around 100 purses.
Milton: What items are being collected?
Bredeson: We are collecting new or gently used purses and items to fill the purses. Items can include small toiletries like lotions and soaps, jewelry, hats, gloves or candy, whatever types of items women can have in their purses. We are asking people to donate a filled purse in a gift bag, but people can also donate just a purse or items or gift cards or a monetary donation.
Milton: How do the women react when they receive a purse?
Bredeson: Women really appreciate the purses and are happy to receive them. A lot of programs buy gifts for children or senior citizens, but not women who need help. Often, the women are moms that are financially strapped, trying to save enough money for their children. They don’t think of themselves. It’s nice to give them a gift and to let them know that someone was thinking of them.
Milton: Why give the gift of a purse?
Bredeson: Most women can’t live without a purse and keep a lot of stuff in them. Buying them can also be expensive. A nice, new purse is always nice to have, it’s something special. Also, the people that collect the purses and items to fill them with have fun putting the gifts together. It’s a good excuse to get in the holiday spirit and give a gift instead of receiving.
Milton: What is your favorite part of the event?
Bredeson: I have helped with the event all three years, and it’s a lot of fun putting the purses and gifts together. You get a good feeling when you go into a store and buy trinkets and little gifts for someone else. It’s amazing to see all of the purses and items accumulate before we deliver them to Safe Passage. It’s nice to play Santa Claus for the day. It helps you get in the giving spirit for the holidays.