Rheal Day Spa is taking donated bags until Dec. 12

Purse Project gives homeless women bags filled with comfort items

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 2:45pm

ROCKLAND — Women who are homeless in the Midcoast have a much harder time when they cannot afford personal care supplies. It’s something most people take for granted, or don’t want to think about it; yet, it’s a grinding reality for the women who have to go through it.

A movement in Tucson, Ariz., called the Purse Project has inspired thousands of women across the country to donate purses and bags they no longer use, which are filled with comfort items such as body wash, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and sanitary items, and given away to homeless women.

The Purse Project has spurred one female business owner to help women locally with this issue. Rhonda Nordstrom, owner of RHEAL Day Spa in Rockland, said she learned about the movement when somebody posted it to her Facebook page.

“There are homeless people all around us, but we usually don’t see it,” she said. “I just thought it would help some women who could really use some things to make them feel better and clean.”

So far, women from all over the Midcoast have donated about 20 filled bags and purses to the project, including some handmade bags by fiber artists. The purses gathered behind the front desk of RHEAL Day spa are filled with a range of practical items, but some things that women have donated are for emotional comfort.

“In one bag we have some beautiful perfume along with soap,” said Nordstrom. “And in another, one woman donated three new cotton T-shirts.”

From another bag, Nordstrom pulled out a bar of chocolate.

The Purse Project will conclude on Dec. 12. Nordstrom has been in touch with The Mid-Coast Hospitality House and a local food bank, relying on those in charge to distribute the purses to the women who need them the most.

To donate, fill a bag or purse with feminine hygiene products, necessities and niceties (chocolate, lip moisturizer...) and drop your bags at RHEAL, 453 Main St. in Rockland, before Dec. 12. They will deliver them. Call 207-594-5077 for questions.

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com