SUDBURY -- The idea started in 2015 by Angel Freedman, of Richmond Hill, who wanted to make sure every woman could get a purse, inspired by the Susan B. Anthony quote "Every woman should have a purse of her own."

Leanna Bouthillette is the lead campaign organizer in Sudbury. She said it is a concept that many take for granted.

"It sounds really silly to us," said Bouthillette. "It's quite easy, we go to the store and buy one, but there's people that are in either a women's shelters or a men's shelter, you know, they're living on a very, very stringent budget, if they have a budget at all."

The idea is very simple and is easy to participate in. Fill a purse that has been gently used or purchased new with an encouraging note and personal necessities such as:

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Reusable cloth facemask
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hairbrush
  • Gloves, hat, scarf,
  • Unused lip balm and makeup
  • Coffee shop gift card
  • Notepad and pen
  • Whistle
  • Flashlight
  • Personal note of encouragement

Last year, the response in Sudbury was huge. Despite a modest goal of 150, the campaign ended up with 860 purses and backpacks, which were distributed among 22 local organizations.

Bouthilette said the donations made a big impact on the recipients and that the campaign received many letters and emails of thanks.

"One lady that was coming out of jail on probation and she got her full purse, and she's like 'oh my gosh. I haven't conditioned my hair in six months. This is going to feel amazing," said Bouthilette." And you and I take that for granted. We condition our hair whenever we want."

She said through the Children's Aid Society, the initiative was able to help a 14-year-old boy give his mom a Christmas gift that year.

"He sent us a letter and thanked us saying it felt so good to be able to do something for his mom when she is always doing for him. So, it's not just going to the women's shelters and the men's shelters, it's helping out smaller organizations in the community as well," said Bouthilette.

Because of the overwhelming response last year, the goal for 2020 is to collect 500 bags filled with personal necessities.

The movement is gaining momentum in communities across Canada. Anyone interested in connecting to the campaign can contact the group's Facebook page.

Donations in Sudbury can be dropped off at:

Drop off locations for Fill a Purse for a Sister

With files from Jessica Gosselin, CTV News Sudbury