TD Canada Trust Anderson Way location staff with the Michael Kors designer purse they are sponsoring

TD Canada Trust Anderson Way location staff with the Michael Kors designer purse they are sponsoring

Power of the Purse helps fill a bucket

The Miracle Bucket Society offers a hand up, not a hand out

For many women, a designer handbag is a treasured item in their wardrobe.

For The Miracle Bucket Society, elegant handbags provide a way of helping people in the community who need a helping hand.

In 2015, the society’s inaugural fundraiser, Power of the Purse, raised more than $20,000 in one night with more than 180 attendees from Vernon, Lake Country and Kelowna

“The Miracle Bucket Society came from a vision of wanting to give back to the community but finding a niche that wasn’t being filled,” said Suzanne Bell, event coordinator. “We have an amazing amount of societies and charities in town, but we identified families who may have a socioeconomic or health crisis and what  they need is a hand up and not a hand out.”

Power of the Purse takes place June 2 at the Prestige Hotel in Vernon with a live and silent auction of purses from designers such as Michael Kors and Kate Spade, and get-away experiences showcasing local businesses while helping local families in crisis.

In addition to the designer handbags, this year’s items up for auction include a signed Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Winter Classic baby blue NHL jersey; a two-night luxury stay at the Loden Boutique Hotel in Vancouver ($2,100 value); a get-away to Kelowna for four to see a Kelowna Rockets hockey game, dinner and overnight stay at the Prestige Inn in Kelowna; a get-away Vernon experience with two nights at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites with breakfast and a bottle of wine, tickets to a Vernon Vipers game, a round of golf at Vernon Golf & Country Club, dinner at Match Eatery & Public House and spending money at Lake City Casino.

Bell said there are a total of seven get-away experiences up for auction, with the most recent coming from a phone call out of the blue from Pacific Coastal Airlines, offering two return airfare tickets to Victoria from Kelowna, valet parking and a one-night stay at the Coast Harbourside Hotel.

“Strengthening the community and supporting families who have experienced socioeconomic and health challenges is the focus and goal of the Miracle Bucket Society of Vernon,” said Bell.

The Miracle Bucket Society was established in Vernon in 2011 by four business women who wish to remain anonymous. Their belief is that living is giving and believing in miracles; giving anonymously provides a hand up and not a hand out; funded activities need to provide direct services to families who fall between the cracks.

Bell said referrals come in to the society from the Interior Health Authority, the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon branch and the Vernon Women’s Transition House.

“We know these are established responsible organizations and they forward families that meet the eligibility criteria.”

Families are supported through anonymous Miracle Bucket gifts through gift cards for groceries at Real Canadian Superstore and/or their affiliates; household supplies and/or furniture for women/men and children who have been relocated due to domestic violence; clothing.

Bell said the situations where families find themselves needing help vary, and all who are helped remain anonymous. Help has been given to a family with young children, where the father was terminally ill and the mother had to work to bring in income while also doing job training.

“When you get a Miracle Bucket with a $400 gift card to use at Superstore, it’s a huge help as it can be used for anything from gas to groceries,” said Bell.

Another family recently helped with a “bucket” was a grandmother looking after her grandchildren, one of whom had a medical issue that required frequent hospital visits.

“These are local families in need and the money is staying here. And each family gets their miracle bucket, with a personalized card.’”

For Bell, who moved from the Lower Mainland recently, getting involved with the society has been an ideal way of getting to know her new community.

“It’s just a great group of women — there are no egos, everyone just wants to help.”

To date, the Miracle Bucket Society has raised more than $40,000 and helped more than 100 families in the Vernon area.

This year’s live auction sponsors include Priscilla and Company, Dr. Christine Hatfield, CK Design, Highridge Homes, 3% Realty, TD Canada Trust (Anderson Way Branch), Kal Tire, INVIS Mortgages, Prestige Hotels & Resorts, The Kelowna Rockets and The Spokane Chiefs, just to name a few.

“This is a very caring, generous community and the amazing generosity of the community in supporting and getting behind this and the fact that we are able to keep it local and help families here is just heartwarming.”

Power of the Purse and Unique Get Away Experiences Live Auction takes place June 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Prestige Hotel, with auctioneer Don Raffan of Valley Auction and emcee Jason Armstrong of Kiss-FM. The $40 ticket incudes cold and hot appetizers throughout the evening, a complimentary glass of wine from Perseus Winery, and a dessert.

The event is sold-out, but Bell is taking names for a waiting list in case individual tickets become available. To get your name on the list, call 250-550-4475.