Maureen Margetts and Bonnie O’Neill, from St Andrews United Church, along with Local Outreach will be hosting a suitcase drive on Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to benefit Chiwid Transition House. (Photo submitted)

Local Outreach accepting suitcase donations for Chiwid Transition House on Sat. Jan 18

Held at Mackinnon Hall at 1000 Huckvale Drive this event runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

To support women in need at Chiwid Transition House, Local Outreach is holding a suitcase drive at St. Andrew’s United Church on Saturday, Jan. 18.

Held at Mackinnon Hall at 1000 Huckvale Drive, this event runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and is looking for gently used suitcases, bags or other forms of spare luggage. The event is being organized by members of St. Andrew’s Local Outreach like Bonnie O’Neill.

O’Neill said that through Local Outreach St. Andrew’s helps out as many non-profits and organizations in the community as they can and that for January they decided to assist the clients of Chiwid Transition House. The house operates as both a safe house and a halfway home for women and children fleeing domestic abuse, located at an unknown location in the lakecity. In addition to providing a safe place, O’Neill said it also offers counselling and information on next steps for those who come through their doors.

“When you’re trying to escape an abusive relationship, you usually don’t have time to pack. You grab the bare essentials, the important papers, a few clothes and your children and usually all of that (stuff) ends up in a garbage bag,” O’Neill said.

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This suitcase drive, in O’Neill’s eyes, will give these women the dignity to be able to leave the Chiwid Transition House with their personal belongings in a suitcase of some kind rather than a trash bag. She said they don’t have a goal for how much they’d like to collect but said they would love to take everything they can get from the community. O’Neill’s biggest concern was whether or not Chiwid Transition House would have the space for these bags but she’s been assured by those who run it that they do.

O’Neill said this kind of a drive was in part inspired by similar events the Women of Steel have held in the past out east. She feels that while it may not be ‘unique’ to Williams Lake, supporting Chiwid Transition House with a drive like this is important.

While collecting suitcases O’Neill said they will also be providing “coffee and community” for those who donate or come by to see what’s going on. She stressed that all donations need to be of good quality and can’t be broken or have a smell.

“I don’t know about you, but I have two suitcases in my closet that are so huge we’re not allowed to take on airplanes anymore,” O’Neill chuckled. “So I definitely have some to donate. I think as a community we should donate our suitcases and help somebody to feel better about themselves.”

They will also be accepting suitcase donations at the Travelogue they’re holding at the church on Jan. 15 on Africa, if anyone wishes to donate then O’Neill said.

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