Manistee Effort to Collect Purses for Women in Shelters Spreads Across State

Two women in Manistee planned on collecting bags for a few women in need. In doing so, they accidentally started an effort that’s spread across Michigan.

“At last count last night we just had over 1,500 purses statewide,” said Judy Crockett, Christmas Carol Purse Project co-founder. “So the project really took off.”

The Christmas Carol Purse Project started with the idea to get 12 purses to women in the domestic abuse shelter Choices of Manistee County. Manistee Residents Judy Crockett and Ann Bifoss are the project’s co-foundresses.

They asked for help from Judy’s sister downstate — and got more than they expected.

“Would you help us just to make sure we get the dozen other purses that we want for Manistee County? And within an hour she called me back and said this is going crazy.”

These purses go beyond a bag women can use– people fill them with toiletries — scarves and wallets.

Women in need in 24 counties have received more than 1,600 purses.

Linda Hatton knows how meaningful gifts can be at this time of year.

“Christmas is so hard. Everything is so different. For our clients, they’re dealing with suddenly ‘Where do the children go? What’s the schedule? Who’s gonna have them Christmas Eve? Who’s gonna have them Christmas Day?’” said Hatton, who works at CHOICES of Manistee County. The domestic abuse shelter received handbags for its clients.

Several businesses in Manistee served as drop off spots this past month.

It’s a project that’s resonated with both those giving and receiving.

“When you think about a woman and a purse and a woman in need, that handbag is your statement. It says a lot about her,” Crockett said. “It adds confidence.”

Hatton remembers Christmases with nothing beneath her tree.

“There’s a lot of people that are struggling with a lot of things,” Hatton said. “The idea of getting something that is feminine, is personal, they feel like they’re kind of special.”

The group is already filling bags for next year… If you’re interested in helping, check out the Facebook page for Christmas Carol Purse Project

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