MSP Niles’ inaugural Purses with a Purpose program a success

Published 6:30 pm Friday, May 6, 2022

241 purses and boxes of comfort items and toiletries were collected for the MSP Niles Purses with a Purpose program. (Submitted)

NILES — The Michigan State Police Niles Post saw a successful first year of its Purses with a Purpose program Thursday afternoon.

241 purses were collected for the program over the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness month. 

Purses with a Purpose involves collecting new and gently used purses and handbags filled with comfort items such as toiletries, socks, snacks/candy, or other self-care items that will be donated to shelters across the Niles area to help sexual abuse victims.

“It was a great response,” said Community Service Trooper Holly Higgs. “It’s a good cause and helps some of these shelters and safe houses. We have them pre-packed so they have a quick ability to help people.”

All MSP posts were collection sites for the initiative, which began in 2019 with MSP Cadillac trooper Andrea Tillman to assist victims of sexual abuse. 2022 marked the first year the program was conducted statewide. 

“She started collecting purses for women who had been part of domestic violence or sexually assaulted,” Higgs said. “She wanted to give to the shelters because sometimes women don’t have anything to take with them for the night when they go. She decided to pack purses with comfort items they may not have with a shelter. The purses allow them to have something to their name when they may not have had anything. They can start a new life.”

Higgs thanked the community for supporting the program.

“I got a lot of phone calls from people delivering purses saying how much fun they had packing them,” Higgs said. “It’s great to see the community willing to help out.”