Armstrong purse project puts women first

When money is tight, even the essentials can become luxury items

Dental floss, soap, shampoo, and tampons, are items many of us wouldn’t think twice about purchasing when we need them. But for a growing number of women in Armstrong these items are becoming luxuries they can’t afford.

Elizabeth Coss, Armstrong Food Bank coordinator, says for women, particularly those receiving income assistance, this is especially true.

“It becomes a side consideration — do I buy food, or do I buy some of the personal products that I need,” she said.

Armstrong resident, Vienna Demontigny says no woman should have to make that choice — “especially” at Christmas.

With the Purse Project, she feels, at least once a year, they don’t have to.

The project, launched and funded primarily by Demontigny two years ago, involves getting a gift bag, which serves as a makeshift purse, filling it up with life’s necessities — which can include anything from toiletries to beauty products — and distributing them to women when they come to the food bank to pick up their Christmas food hamper later this month.

This year, according to Coss, the Armstrong food bank is expected to distribute more than 100 Christmas hampers. On average, she says she distributes about 35 per month.

Demontigny says the project was born out of one simple fact.

“I just thought it would be nice for these women to have something to open at Christmas,” she explained.

“Everybody’s about the kids (at Christmas) and the mothers often get left behind, so I thought, you know, women need stuff too.”

Vicki Cardinal, registrar with the Armstrong Kin Club, echoed Demontigny, noting the importance of the project’s focus on women.

“I think as women, at times, we do tend to put ourselves last,” Cardinal said.

“We put our children first, and then our spouse and we become an afterthought. So I think this project helps highlight that we need to remember to take care of our own needs too.”

Demontigny says each of the 40 “purses” she filled this year contain “pretty much everything a woman would need” in her purse, and maybe a few “extras.”

Each purse contains: hand cream, lip balm, emery boards, pens, tooth paste, a tooth brush, Kleenex, gum, deodorant, eye liner, lip liner,nail clippers, dental floss, soap, a screen saver, candles, a note pad, bracelets, perfume samples, sanitary napkins, tampons, socks, lipstick and a book mark.Each bag also includes a $20 gift card for Askews Foods, courtesy of the Armstrong Kin Club.

While Demontigny purchased most of these items herself, she said now that the project is in its third year, more and more people are coming forward asking to help out. The project has wrapped for this year, but Demontigny says anyone wishing to donate for next year is welcome to by contacting her through the Armstrong Food Bank.

Erin Christie


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Armstrong Kin Club registrar,Vicki Cardinal, presents Armstrong Foodbank coordinator, Elizabeth Coss with a cheque for $1,500 on behalf of the Kin Club Monday morning. The funds will be used by the food bank to help restock the shelves after the holidays. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

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