FOX 2 - Survivors of sexual assault are often forced to pick up and leave their life behind, with nothing but what they can carry.
Michigan State Police are helping those women with "Purses with a Purpose." Inside are normal everyday use items like a toothbrush, soap, and hand sanitizer which help provide a fresh start.
"So many times when we deal with victims of domestic violence, we take them to the shelters and they don’t have articles they need for survival," said 1st Lt. Jennifer Johnson, Michigan State Police.
Purses with a Purpose is an initiative started by a trooper at the MSP post in Cadillac to collect purses and stuff them with personal care items that many might take for granted.
"They actually collected 500 purses up in Cadillac," Johnson said. "It was such a success, she thought it should go statewide."
MSP Metro South Post is currently accepting Purses with a Purpose donations in their lobby which is taking place during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Law enforcement officials say abuse and sex crimes have peaked during the pandemic.
"It is people being stuck at home, tensions have been higher this past year," Johnson said. "Unfortunately you tend to take out those stressors on your loved ones."
But you can help provide comfort to these victims.
"Some of the purses that have come in have toothpaste in them, toothbrushes, deodorant, razors, socks," Johnson said. "Cell phone chargers are huge if you are leaving your house in a hurry or just transient."
The donated purses stuffed with items will benefit recipients all over Michigan including two SE Michigan non-profits Alternatives for Girls and Vista Maria which provides trauma treatment for young people who have been sexually abused.
"Drives like Purses with a Purpose shows our youth that they are supported and cared for," said Meredith Reese, Vista Maria."We are very grateful to our partners like Michigan State Police."
To help, you can donate a new purse or donate essential items to go inside of it, that works also. MSP is also accepting donations of money which troopers will use to purchase the items for donation.
So far, about 100 purses have been collected at the Metro South Post. Johnson is encouraging everyone to do their part to make this effort a success.
"Metro South Post Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., we will take your purses off your hands," Johnson said.
The Metro South Post is at 12111 Telegraph Road in Taylor. The phone number is (734) 287-5000.