It's In The Bag: A christmas campaign to support women

It’s In The Bag: A christmas campaign to support women

I have a confession. I love Christmas, I really really do, but I do feel torn in the lead up to December 25th about balancing the good will of the season with the inevitable proliferation of presents.

Children who live in homes where in addition to having their physical and emotional needs met, they have access to all manner of toys, books and activities, are blessed.  Children who anticipate waking up on Christmas morning to a stocking filled and presents under the tree are incredibly fortunate.

But when it’s all they have ever known they don’t understand it is a privilege. To them, it’s simply the way the world works. It’s easy enough for adults to forget this too. How do we teach kids – and remind ourselves – that isn’t the way the world works for everyone?

Gratitude and awareness are more pressing at this time of year than any other time – for children and adults alike.

Which is partly why It’s In The Bag caught my eye. It’s an annual drive run by Share the Dignity, a charity which provides on the ground support for homeless women and victims of domestic violence. The charity was founded in 2015 by Rochelle Courtenay,  a recent finalist in the Queensland category for Australian of the Year.

It’s In The Bag aims to gather packages to be given as gifts to the 85,000 women and teenage girls who are estimated to be homeless or taking refuge in shelters this Christmas.

Around 55% of women and girls are in these situations as a result of fleeing domestic abuse in their homes. Rochelle Courtenay says these packages remind these women and girls they matter.

“We wanted to give Aussie women and girls doing it tough over the holiday period a reason to smile and feel cared for, as well as restoring some dignity by providing them with handbags filled with essential hygiene products they desperately need, as well as a few little treats,” Share the Dignity’s Rochelle Courtenay says.

The  premise of the campaign is to donate a new or nearly new handbag that you no longer use and fill it with items that will make a difference to the daily life of a homeless woman.

Each bag needs to be filled with essentials including pads, tampons, deodorants, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and soap. Little luxuries like lip balm, socks, a brush or anything that would make a woman or teenage girl who’s struggling feel special can also be included.

Individuals donating bags are encouraged to pop a thoughtful note into the bag, to show these women that someone cares and that they matter.

Courtney says it will be the most meaningful and appreciated gift an Australian can give this year, regardless of how they celebrate Christmas, and it’s hard to disagree.

The campaign began on the 18th of November and more than 2000 bags have already been donated. It will run until the 2nd of December and bags can be dropped off at your nearest Bunnings store. To find your nearest collection point, head to www.sharethedignity.com.au.

The 2500 Share the Dignity volunteers will collect donated bags and distribute throughout December to domestic abuse shelters and drop-in centres, ensuring the bags are available for homeless women in time for Christmas.

Next time you’re at the shops, collect a few items for your Christmas handbag and include your children in the process. It’s one small gesture with a very big message and it may well be the best gift you can give another woman and your family.

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