Cooperative News

Handbags for Hope

PEC employee collects gently used bags for domestic violence survivors

Purses — every woman has one, or two or 10, including a few that don’t seem to get used anymore. What if you could clear out your closet while helping someone else at the same time? PEC Financial Analyst Tonya Dahmann is helping her community do just that.

Tonya Dahmann with handbags in back of SUV
PEC Financial Analyst Tonya Dahmann has already started collecting for this year’s Handbags for Hope drive, which collects new and gently used handbags to distribute to domestic violence survivors across Texas for Mother’s Day.

“I just stumbled upon Handbags for Hope one day when I was watching the local news a couple of years ago,” Dahmann said. “I knew I had about 10 purses in my closest that I had not used in the past year, and I knew that this was something I could easily do.”

For the past three years, Dahmann has been participating in Handbags for Hope, a donation drive collecting new and gently used handbags of all shapes and sizes for domestic violence survivors across Texas. The Texas Advocacy Project, an organization providing free legal services to domestic violence victims, hosts the drive annually around Mother’s Day. The bags collected are distributed to shelters throughout the greater Austin area, but not before receiving a discreet inner tag that lists a toll-free legal line for victims who need help.

In addition to friends and members of her church, Dahmann has been collecting purses from PEC employees each year at our Johnson City headquarters. Thanks to our employees’ generosity, last spring she filled the entire trunk of her Tahoe SUV with purses and delivered them to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, which partners with Handbags for Hope.

“What’s special about [Handbags for Hope] is they let the children of domestic abuse survivors pick out a bag to give to their mom on Mother’s Day,” Dahmann said. “Most women keep everything they need in their purse, and these bags give these women a sense of pride and security to always have a bag that can hold their essential belongings and be a resource to them in violent situations.”

This year, the drive runs from late February to late March. But Dahmann will gladly accept your gently used handbags today and make sure they get into the right hands, because just one purse can help a domestic violence victim become a domestic violence survivor.

“It’s all about being aware of the things that are going on in your community,” Dahmann said. “Every little bit helps, and it’s so special that these purses are making a big difference to somebody’s life.”

Do you have a new or gently used purse that you would like to donate to Handbags for Hope? Learn where you can give.