The Horry Georgetown Technical College’s chapter of national honor society Phi Theta Kappa is collecting purses to help homeless women ages 13 through 21.
The group is asking for donations of purses, personal hygiene products, fast-food gift cards and ponchos, among others. Bags and backpacks are also acceptable. The donations will be given to a local charitable organization.
Just about any female participant that we have come in, we’re going to try and offer them a purse if they don’t have one.
Chris Steele, Sea Haven
“A lot of ladies don’t conform to carrying purses so we do bags or backpacks, things like that,” said Phi Theta Kappa Vice President of Fellowship Heather Dougherty-Nelson. “And on the inside are travel items, shampoos, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and we’re going to gather all these, pack them, and they’re going to be given to Sea Haven.”
Sea Haven is an organization that helps homeless youth ages 13 to 17. Their partner organization, Project Lighthouse, helps the homeless population ages 18 through 21.
Chris Steele, an outreach worker at Sea Haven and a fellow member of Phi Theta Kappa, said he was approached by Phi Theta Kappa advisers Beth Carraway and Leila Rogers, who asked him to participate in the project.
“I said ‘absolutely,’” said Steele. “We have a lot of women who come in and they really don’t have a lot when they get here, so we want to give them anything that will make them feel humanized again. If it’s even just a purse.”
I think that it shows how we care about our community and gives people a hand up that need that extra attention that might not get it or might now know how to get it.
Heather Dougherty-Nelson, Phi Theta Kappa
Steele used to work in law enforcement as a corrections officer and said he got tired of seeing kids end up in jail.
“This is something that I can get myself in a position to stop this from happening early,” he said.
The youth who come to Sea Haven could be homeless, trying to escape from an abusive relationship or be referred to the program through the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice said Steele.
“Just about any female participant that we have come in, we’re going to try and offer them a purse if they don’t have one,” Steele said. “Sometimes that’s just one little thing that helps them step up and feel a little bit better about themselves.”
We have a lot of women who come in and they really don’t have a lot when they get here, so we want to give them anything that will make them feel humanized again.
Chris Steele, Sea Haven
Dougherty-Nelson said she looks forward to seeing the reaction of women who will receive the purses.
“I think that it shows how we care about our community and gives people a hand up that need that extra attention that might not get it or might not know how to get it,” she said. “And to show people that we care as ordinary people or as a school. Horry Georgetown cares about everyone in the community.”
Some of the women who could receive the purses are high school and college students.
“It’s something that a lot of people don’t understand,” said Steele. “There are college students that live out of their car. Like these youth that bounce from couch to couch or hotel room to hotel room.
“They’re technically considered homeless even though they have a roof over their head. It’s not their roof. It’s someone helping them out.”
There are donation boxes set up in buildings 100, 300, 1000 and 1100 at HGTC’s Conway campus, said Dougherty-Nelson. There’s a box at the school’s location in Georgetown and in building 200 at the Grand Strand Campus.
Dougherty-Nelson said people can also call her to ask about donating items. She can be reached at 843-957-5392.
“I like to pick up the purses personally so I can make sure that we have them all there,” she said.
The donation drive ends Oct. 19.
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian
Collection boxes are set up at HGTC’s Conway, Georgetown and Myrtle Beach campuses. Those interested can also call 843-957-5392.