Christmas is fast approaching with shopping centres around the country already going overboard on decorations and specials for gifts.
For Australia’s homeless population however, Christmas is most certainly one of the most difficult times of year.
For homeless women of Australia, especially parents with children, Christmas is nothing like how one would picture it.
Brisbane-based organisation, Share the Dignity aims to give these disadvantaged women a little Christmas support in the most practical way possible.
Share the Dignity’s “It’s In the Bag” campaign calls for women to donate their old handbags they no longer use, filled with health, hygiene and lifestyle essentials homeless women are generally unable to access, to shelters and other organisations.
Founder of Share the Dignity and the “It’s In the Bag” campaign, Rochelle Courtenay is passionate about providing items the majority of us take for granted to women who are left without.
“If we gave a woman a voucher, she’d spend it on her children. Women are so selfless,” Ms Courtenay said.
“So, the best thing we thought to do was something that was practical for everyone to be able to put together.”
In 2015, Share the Dignity collected over 27, 000 handbags for women in need, and this still did not meet demand.
Share the Dignity aims to collect 50, 000 handbags to offer to homeless and disadvantaged women, and more on top of this to transport to women in drought-stricken farming families.
“Think about why it would make a difference and how nice it would be to make somebody feel important on Christmas day of all days, and how it would feel for them to wake up with a Christmas present,” Ms Courtenay said.
“Most of us have got an old handbag that we don’t use anymore because we’ve got a new favourite, and hey, fill it with some of the stuff you were gifted with last Christmas that you’ve never even used!”
Bags can be packed with the simplest of items such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, deodorant, pads and tampons and a whole variety of items that are more often than not taken for granted.
Share the Dignity began as an organization by collecting donations of sanitary items to give to homeless women who did not have funds to access them. Today, the Share the Dignity has multiple campaigns and fundraisers dedicated to helping homeless women around the country, and is active in raising awareness for domestic violence prevention.
“I think this is the difference between just talking about pads and periods, and talking about a Christmas gift,” Ms Courtenay said.
For more information on what to include in a bag, what not to include and where to donate, head to www.sharethedignity.com/itsinthebag.