Ten friends have banded together to inject new hope into an initiative that aims to help women in need.

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This article was published 20/11/2017 (1650 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ten friends have banded together to inject new hope into an initiative that aims to help women in need.

For the past two years, Purses of Hope has collected gently used purses filled with useful items, such as new socks and panties, feminine hygiene products and toiletries, and distributed them to women who are homeless or live in shelters.

The initiative was started by Sherry Selley, Brandi Neves and Sherry Turner, who are lifelong friends.

When Neves posted on Facebook last month that they would not be able to facilitate Purses of Hope this year because of personal situations, Sharon Evans decided to step in.

In a matter of minutes, she had nine of her girlfriends on board — and Neves’ blessing — to create Handbags of Hope.

"I’d tell people in my store about (Purses of Hope) all the time," says Evans, 53, who co-owns Lake Life, a women’s clothing store. "Hopefully, we can make (them) proud."

Evans and her friends are encouraging women to get involved by donating a gently used purse with useful items.

When she wrote about Purses of Hope two years ago, Free Press columnist Jen Zoratti noted that these kits meet practical and emotional needs.

"Many women living on the margins feel isolated, invisible and ignored," Zoratti wrote.

"A project such as this offers a chance to show empathy."

Evans and her friends hope to collect 1,000 purses by Dec. 11.

Cathy Jowett has known Evans for 15 years and says her friend’s enthusiasm inspired her to get involved.

"So many women get forgotten, and that’s tough to take right now," says Jowett, 52, who works as a credit analyst at Cargill. "When you sit and reflect on women in shelters and the things they’re going through, you feel the need to give back. It’s something we all can do."

Evans adds that if life circumstances were different, she or one of her friends could be living on the street.

"You never know what can happen and where life can take you," she says.

Anyone interested in contributing a purse to Handbags of Hope can visit facebook.com/handbagsofhopewpg for a list of suggested items to include.

People can take their filled purses to Lake Life (440 Academy Rd.) or Calabria Market (139 Scurfield Blvd.). Evans is hoping to add more drop-off locations soon.

"You’ve got a few weeks," she says. "Have a few girlfriends over, get together over a glass of wine and put together some purses."

Two and a half weeks into the initiative, Evans is having a blast.

"I’m super enthusiastic, and so are my girlfriends," she says. "It’s going to snowball, and we know it’s going to be an awesome way to kick off the holiday season."

Jowett hopes that even if people choose not to participate in Handbags of Hope, they do something to share what they have this holiday season.

"We want to encourage everybody... to pay it forward in their lives," she says.

"That’s really the message we want to get out there, as well."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.