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Thunder Bay Teen Collects Purses for Women in Need


“Every woman loves a purse, and every woman should have one.” This simple idea inspired Faryn Gysen, 14, to bring the hope of Christ on Easter to 287 women in need. Each woman received a purse filled with toiletries, a New Testament Bible, devotional book, gift cards, and more. Gysen, who is a member of First Christian Reformed Church in Thunder Bay, Ont., calls it Project Purse.

“My mom saw a Facebook post from Texas where the idea was pack [a] purse and keep it in your vehicle, and when you see a woman [who is homeless], give it to her,” said Gysen. “God put it on my heart to take it further.”

What started in late January as a small drop box for purses and toiletries at her church turned into seven drop-off locations and a Facebook group with over 900 members. On March 21, approximately 30 people participated in a purse-packing party complete with door prizes and refreshments. “I felt very blessed. People want to help,” said Gysen.

Gysen distributed the purses to seven charitable organizations in the Thunder Bay area that support women who are homeless, recovering from addictions, fleeing abusive situations, transitioning into society following incarceration, or have other needs. Geysen and her family members passed out some purses directly to the women on Easter weekend.  

Angela Gysen, Faryn’s mom, said, “[The women] especially seemed to like picking out their purse. We were able to talk to many of them while helping them do this. It was so awesome to see them all leaving the Shelter House with a purse on their shoulder!”

The Gysen family visited the organizations and learned how they are actively supporting women in their own community. Faryn said it was eye-opening to see how the organizations help people who are homeless.”

Gysen hopes to make Project Purse an annual event. Angela Gysen said, “Faryn would like to encourage others to start a Project Purse where they live. You will most certainly be blessed while being a blessing to others!”

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