Temple student organizes initiative to help women in Philadelphia

Purses Full of Hope is accepting donations from now until December 31st

Philadelphia has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation at 26.3 percent. Approximately 63% of homeless women have experienced domestic violence in their adult lives and according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence.

Kyra Miller, a sophomore communications student, has a special initiative this holiday season to help these women.

Kyra and her mom and sister created Purses Full of Hope with hopes of bringing joy to these women with bags filled of basic women’s needs, including tooth brushes, socks, scarves, lipstick, pens, journals and gift cards. They deliver the bags to local women’s shelters in the Philadelphia area, along with an anonymous note with an encouraging message for every woman who receives the bags.

The Tab interviewed Kyra about this initiative running from now till December 31st and why it’s important to give back before the holiday season begins.

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How did you come up with the idea for Purses Full of Hope?

Kyra: “We saw a picture posted on Facebook one day and it said grab an old purse and fill it with stuff and the next time you see a homeless woman, give it to them. We just knew this was a really good idea and we should try to blow this up by getting more donations. We wanted to get as much donations to physically give it to the women at the shelters in order to reach more people and make it a bigger thing than rather finding a single woman on the street.”

Sally Marie Young (Kyra’s mom): “Purses full of hope is near and dear to my heart. I believe in beauty and the empowered feeling a woman has when she feels worthy and pretty in her way creates hope. We’re on a mission to not just gift the woman in need but to also gift the giver! When one woman shows compassion and support in helping another woman then we begin to break down walls and rebuild relationships within the feminine. We are all the same . . . we are mothers, daughters, sisters. No one understands what a woman needs more then another woman. This time of the year there is so much focus on gifting to the children, which is wonderful. But what about the mommas – The real heroes!

They sacrifice so much and leave nothing for themselves. We need to encourage and empower the mothers who are raising our future. Treat them with love and dignity. All woman want to feel beautiful. The things that most of us have in our purses from day to day are a luxury. But for a woman who is struggling, when your kids are hungry the last thing you’re thinking is about buying a new lipstick or anything else for yourself. But ladies, we all know the power a lipstick can hold for a lady. It can be a game changer in confidence and energy and could possibly lead them to apply for that job. Feeling worthy can shift a persons direction in life.”

Brielle Miller (Kyra’s sister): “The whole idea of Purses Full of Hope is just genuine and unparalleled to anything I have ever been a part of before. It’s so powerful as a woman to understand the needs of these other women and to be able to donate great quality materials so these ladies can feel like your every-day woman, and to feel like a valued piece of society. Also to be able to give locally and physically see where these products that so many people have taken the time to prepare and donate end up and to see the impact it creates for these women makes it all worth while. It’s a fun bonding experience and an even better learning experience.”

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Kyra with her family last year donating the purses to women shelters in the Philadelphia area.

Could you explain how last year’s Purses Full of Hope went?

Kyra: “Last year what we decided to do was reach out to people on social media and since I’m from Delaware County, we collected under 50 donations and then we split it up afterwards to give to different homeless shelters. We asked if it was okay to hand deliver these bags but there were some shelters who didn’t allow us to personally give the donation to the women. We were lucky to meet a good amount of women and even play with their kids. If it was really cool thing what we did last year and we hope to have bigger outcome this year!”

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What were some of the reactions you’ve gotten from these donations?

Kyra: “There were some mixed reactions when we were giving out the purses, which we understand. Many of the women were grateful for the purses but some of them didn’t want to be pitied, which is something that we don’t wish to do. We want the women to feel confident and feel empowered and not make them feel like a victim. We understand these women have been through a lot and we’re here to help them.”

Are you excited Temple students could help you with accomplishing your mission of helping these women?

Kyra: “Yes, I’m so excited. I’ve already gotten a couple emails from my classmates and sorority sisters who have told me they want to expand it to their chapter. It’s been a beautiful thing to see everyone come together because I didn’t expect people choosing to donate. I’ve been so happy with the feedback so far.”

As a young woman yourself, why do you think it’s so important to contribute to Purses Full of Hope?

Kyra: “The reason why I think this is so important is because it’s the giving season but this is the time of the year that people really think about it. We always see these toy drives and different things for kids that they could open up on Christmas morning, which are so important too. But, you don’t see many donations for the women who are trying to make it all happen.

We knew this would be a cool thing to do to give back to all the mothers and women who aren’t mothers. Being a woman is different than being a man and sometimes it could be really hard to balance other challenges at the same time. Purses Full of Hope is to help women feel beautiful and have things that make them feel pretty and clean. We also encourage the people who donate to include a tiny note or even one word of love and inspiration to remind these women that they’re loved during the holiday season and whatever they’re going through is going to be okay.”

To donate to Purses Full of Hope, you can email Kyra at tuf86430@temple.edu.

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