Heartfelt handbags to make a difference this Christmas

Rhonda Douglas at the 2019 Bunnings Tuggerah It’s In The Bag collection box

Northerners are being asked to make a difference in the lives of struggling women this Christmas when Share the Dignity’s It’s In The Bag appeal kicks off in November.

The appeal is designed to give Australian women and girls doing it tough a reason to smile and feel cared for during the holidays, by providing them with a handbag filled with essentials and little luxuries donated by the public.

With restoring dignity through the provision of period products the core objective of Share the Dignity, local ‘Shero’ volunteers from the women’s empowerment charity are now calling on Central Coast residents to donate and bring some cheer, dignity and community to what’s expected to be a lean Christmas for many.

Rhonda Douglas is Share the Dignity’s Central Coast Charity Coordinator, and truly believes that It’s In The Bag is making a difference, but with the pandemic expected to drive need to new highs, she’s hoping more residents will dig deep and donate this year.

“We have almost 30 local charities that have requested around 1,500 bags, but we rarely, if ever, get enough donations to meet demand and we are expecting a surge in requests over the coming weeks, so it would be wonderful if we could also get a surge in donations to match,” Douglas said.

With the appeal assisting numerous charities that support women, Douglas encourages would-be donors to really think about who their bag is for.

“These bags go to all sorts of women, new or expecting mums, victims of domestic or family violence, homeless women, teens and women just genuinely living below the poverty line, so we actually sort the bags into three categories: teen bags, adult bags and mum and bub bags; and we ask that donors keep this in mind when making up their bag.”

Essentials included in every bag are: shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, body wash or soap, roll on deodorant and a sealed packet of pads or tampons, with donors able to tailor their bag to one of the three categories by ensuring these essentials are age appropriate.

The mum and bub bags also have the extra requirement of including essential items for newborns such as nappies and baby wipes, as well as items for new mums such as maternity pads.

The bags can be further tailored with any luxury items that donors choose to include, with things like beauty products, jewellery, books and magazines, socks, towels and gift vouchers all good choices that can easily be age targeted.

Douglas said the bags themselves can also be customised for their intended recipient, with handbags considered the most appropriate choice for adult bags, a handbag or school appropriate backpack the best for teen bags, and a large handbag or nappy bag the best for mum and bub bags.

There’s one other item that Douglas thinks is essential to every single bag, a handwritten note from the donor.

“The handbags are supposed to make these ladies feel special and I believe some sort of personal message that says something along the lines of ‘this bag was packed with love for you and I know you’ll get through whatever you’re going through’ can really make a difference.

“Many of the women who receive these handbags had to walk away from their lives, some with absolutely nothing, so I can’t stress enough how important this appeal is and how much a simple handbag can mean to someone.”

It’s In The Bag runs from November 20-29, with Bunnings stores the drop off location for the Central Coast.

Would be donors are advised that while bags can be second hand, provided they are in good condition, all items within them must be brand new.

Dilon Luke

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