LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - A simple home project started just two months ago has generated a creative new approach to help the homeless: Purses for Sisters.
“I was cleaning up my room, and I came across some purses,” said co-founder Claire Jones. “And it was like this idea that came to me before I even had to think about it or what to do with them. I just knew I had to do it.”
Other collection programs offer essential items for the homeless, but the twist here is the container and the people meant to receive it.
Sunday was the group’s first purse-packing party.
Jones and her project partner Heather Emmert are hoping this small gesture will make a big impact.
“Every woman wants a purse,” Jones said. “A bag, yeah, it’s useful, but a purse is just something that a woman needs.”
The items included aren’t just for personal hygiene.
“I definitely wanted to include something that, you know, just something that makes a woman feel like a woman.”
Each month, a business will be asked to be a drop-off location for donated purses and items. The initial collection drive yielded more than 50 purses and more than enough items to fill them.
The plan is to collect and stuff the purses, and then have them distributed directly to the homeless through trained volunteers.
“We do want to try to be as personal as we can with these women,” Emmert said. “That way, they do trust us when they see us, and then, maybe one day they’ll stop us and they’ll be like, ‘Hey, look. Do you have this kind of resource information for us?’ Because, you know, at first it’s going to be intimidating because of the situation that they’re in.”
Each purse includes a personal note written by volunteers, and then it is blessed with a personal prayer.
Jones was introduced to working with the homeless through her father, John Jones, minister to students at First Baptist Church in Long Beach.
“She grew up with me going to New Orleans, interacting with the homeless; giving them food, socks and water in many situations throughout her teenage years,” he said. “Now, that she’s 20, she’s doing this on her own. I’m a very proud papa.”
To keep up with the organization and learn how you can donate gently used purses or items to fill them, follow the Facebook page.