Purses of Hope made a successful debut in the Pacific Northwest last year, collecting and distributing more than 400 purses stuffed with personal hygiene items to women in need last year.
Newberg resident Cheri Meyerhofer started the charity effort in Arizona, where she lives half the year, and was thrilled with the response by the public in both Newberg and Vancouver, Wash.
That included approximately 125 purses that were handed out locally by Love INC.
"It was a huge success numbers-wise and we were able to give to more agencies than we thought we were going to be able to," Meyerhofer said. "We are hoping to do as well or better this year."
This year, Newberg area donations can be dropped off in a bin in the lobby of the Chehalem Cultural Center. The list of hygiene items needed includes bath gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, disposable razors, feminine hygiene products, nail clippers, hand lotion, tissues, deodorant, brushes and combs.
"It means a lot to me to know that there are people out there who still care about the happiness of strangers," one purse recipient told Meyerhofer last year. "If only you could see the joy on my face."
Meyerhofer reported that about 75 purses have been donated so far and that she hopes the drive, which began June 20, will finish strong before ending July 31.
In addition to distributing purses locally through Love INC, Purses of Hope also made donations to Henderson House in McMinnville, Rafael House in Portland, as well as the YWCA and Second Step Housing in Vancouver.
"I contacted all the recipients and they were thrilled and many want to participate again," Meyerhofer said.
Meyerhofer hopes that the event has gained enough traction in the community to be sustainable moving forward, even as she makes tweaks to better accommodate donors and to better serve recipients. For instance, last year she asked donors to provide travel-size toiletries, but heard from recipients that regular-sized items are much preferred. Some items, like socks, were also removed from the list.
"I contacted all the recipients and they were thrilled and many want to participate again. We've expanded our Facebook page for the project and I've talked to a lot more people," Meyerhofer said. "They were semi-familiar with it last year and this year, they're already collecting and talking about it with their friends."