Jane Wood (middle) displays her collection of bags in the first year of the program last year. Photo submitted.

Handbags offer hope for those in need

Jane Wood knows what a difference one handbag can make for a woman.

While it may add style, she is focused mostly on what is inside, and how that will help those less fortunate during the Christmas season.

This is the second year Wood is co-ordinating her Handbags for Hope donation drive, which seeks donations of gently used handbags, filled with essentials and treats for women in need within the Comox Valley.

Wood moved to the Comox Valley two-and-a-half years ago, and said she wanted to do something for the community, “that was so warm and welcoming to me. There was a program back in Australia that my mom and her friends did which was quite similar.”

Last year, Wood collected nearly 500 bags, following an initial goal of around 125. This year, Wood is asking the same from the community: donations not only of bags, but supplies such as hats, scarves, lip balm, shower gel, full-sized shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrushes, sanitary items, hair ties, toiletries, a chocolate bar/candy, pens and notebooks.

She is also asking for people to include a “note of hope” from the donor to the woman who will receive the handbag.

“It could be a Christmas wish, a note to say ‘we’re here to support you’ or ‘we’re thinking of you.’ ”

Last year, the bags were handed out at the annual Comox Valley Transition Society Christmas lunch, and Wood noted women “were blown away that they could take one. One lady had a list of items that she needed but didn’t know how she was able to get them. The bag was filled with almost everything she needed.”

This year, the bags will again be on a large table at the Dec. 12 lunch, and women can ‘shop’ for a bag which best suits their own identity, added Wood.

Donations can be dropped off at the Comox Valley Transitional Society at 625 England Ave., or pick up can be arranged through Wood by calling 250-650-1432, emailing janewood1234@yahoo.com or visiting the Facebook page Comox Valley Handbags for Hope.

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