Many women carry a purse containing their car keys, a wallet and their phone. For women who are domestic violence survivors, a handbag can serve a much greater purpose.
That’s why last week, Handbags for Hope made an appearance at T-Werx Coworking in Cedar Park where locals dropped off new or gently-used handbags. The crucial component of the bag is what is inside: a tag that’s sewn into the purse has the 1-800-347-HOPE help line number that anyone who is involved in domestic violence can call to get free legal help.
“You need a legacy, something you can do,” Candace Lambert, a board member at the Texas Advocacy Project, said. “She’s going to go back into the home seven or eight times before she leaves for good. It’s empowering to carry the number around.”
The bags also include pamphlets detailing steps to get and stay safe.
“She’s going to go home and rip out those pamphlets,” Lambert said. “When she leaves the house she might not have anything but the clothes on her back and her children, so this gives her something to hold onto.”
The drive officially launches on Feb. 22 and runs through the end of March. After that date, the bags are delivered to shelters across Texas.
Handbags can be dropped off at the Travis County Sheriff’s Office at 5555 Airport Blvd. in Austin. Additional drop-off locations include Health Markets, Austin Marriott North at Round Rock and the offices of several Allstate agents.
The bags are collected, cleaned, tagged and shipped so children who come to the shelter with their mom can pick out a purse to give her for Mother’s Day.
“They [The Texas Advocacy Project] will give the bags to the children staying in shelters across Williamson County to give to their moms,” Lambert said.
For the past decade, The Texas Advocacy Project has collected thousands of donated purses and shipped them to shelters across Texas.