Tahlequah Daily Press


April 16, 2012

Help-In-Crisis bags donations with event

Approximately 300 bags found new homes during Purses for Prevention.

TAHLEQUAH — Shopping for purses is a favorite pastime of many women.

Shopaholics had an opportunity to not only pick up several purses at bargain prices, but to donate to Help-In-Crisis during the agency’s annual “Purses for Prevention,” fundraiser Friday.

The proceeds are used for prevention programs, and the event is about raising awareness as much as fundraising.

“We’re raising awareness to not just keep people from drowning in the river of violence, but to keep them from getting in it,” said Jyme Lowe, prevention coordinator with Help-In-Crisis.

The event was originally organized by June Ludwig, of Junie’s Closet, about five years ago, Lowe said.

“It got too big for her shop, so it moved here,” Lowe said. “It’s one of our biggest fundraisers.”

As prevention coordinator, Lowe visits area schools and teaches students from pre-kindergarten to college age about healthy relationships.

“I have the best job,” Lowe said. “Although it’s really hard to measure prevention, I see cultural norm changes, such as teens identifying unhealthy situations in their friends’ and their own relationships, and having the courage to say something or get out of that relationship.”

Kori Bartholomew, family support worker with the Helping You Grow program, said HUG helps with parent child enrichment through home visitation for ages prenatal to 5 years old, to prevent child abuse.

“It’s a free, voluntary program sponsored by Help-In-Crisis,” Bartholomew said. “We help new parents learn how to take care of their babies, teach about child development, nutrition and parent child interaction.”

The rain held off for the outdoor sale, with most of the 300 purses finding new homes. Popular name brands such as Coach, Vera Bradley, Brighton, Dooney and Bourke, Fossil and Big Buddah were among the selections, along with many others.

Prices began at $3; most purses were $25 or less, and two were $50. There were also five purses, donated by a local boutique owner, used as silent auction items. Donations of purses came from individuals and five local businesses.

The businesses offered special promotions and discounts to customers who donated purses, then gave the purses they collected to the event.

Yvonne Deckard carried three purses, two purple and one black, besides her own purple Vera Bradley, which was a birthday gift.

“My daughter told me about this event; I came looking for Vera Bradley [purses],” Deckard said. “This is a great idea. With my birthday money, I donated a Vera Bradley at Meigs and got 20 percent off my purchase at Meigs. It’s my first year to participate, but I’ll definitely be back.”

Each year, the event gains new fans and brings back those who look forward to finding a new purse at a bargain.

The Vera Bradley purses are among the first to go.

The smiles and laughter among the shoppers was a clear indication they are having fun.

“I like being able to afford a Vera Bradley, and that the money goes to donations [to HIC],” Christie Hester said.

Two hipster purses hung from her shoulder, besides her own purse, and she shopped for others.

“I came down for a $20 Vera Bradley, and I have a $15 Vera Bradley and another purse for $3,” Hester said.

Mandi Halpain saw the event posted on Facebook.

“It’s my first time,” she said. “I’m just looking.”

She stopped by with friend Andrea Bigfeather, who supports the event.

“It’s a good way to bring people out and a good idea for a fundraiser,” Bigfeather said.

Andrea Cape had the event on her calendar since last week.

“I love the purses; I should have brought some [of my own] down [to donate]. I will next year,” Cape said. “People who don’t usually donate to charity will by a purse [as a form of donation].”

Jill Weeks wanted to support Help-In-Crisis, and  brought friends from the Methodist Children’s Home.

“When we have events, the Help-In-Crisis volunteers help us and we want to shop and support them,” Weeks said.

“This is a very good way to get women out. A win-win [situation], the purses have been used and donated and they still have a lot of life left in them.”

Angela Armstrong was checking out purses with co-worker Weeks.

“Anytime I can see purses, I’m looking [to buy a new one],” Armstrong said. “If it’s helping out somebody, it’s good. Ladies love purses and it helps; that’s a good deal.”

Usually they sell out of purses, Lowe said.

“At the end of the day, if any purses are left, they become Mother’s Day presents for the women at the shelter,” Lowe said.

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