This Christmas, Tammy Clarke is giving her son the gift of empathy.
For the last two years, Clarke has been collecting purses for women in need before Christmas. This year she looks forward to having her youngest family member along to distribute the gifts.
Tanner, 10, is happy to help.
“The moms have children they love and support and sometimes don’t have the money to buy for themselves,” he said.
Clarke is excited to bring her son along for the ride.
“It just gives him an understanding that life can be good here at home, but there’s more outside that you don’t know about,” she said.
Clarke collects purses from people all over Halifax. The donated purses come stuffed with everyday items like toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, and shampoo.
Clarke and her husband, Rodney, spend the days leading up to Christmas going through the items to make sure they are not used. They also check each bag to make sure they’re in good condition.
She then delivers the purses to organizations and churches near her in the St. Margaret’s Bay area, as well as Halifax and Dartmouth.
Last year she collected 100 purses, which is double the number she gathered the previous year. She hopes for the same number this Christmas — if not more.
Lisa Mullin is the executive director of the Marguerite Centre, a long-term residential facility for women healing from addictions. She’s accepted donations from Clarke, on behalf of residents, for the last two years.
She’s pleased to hear that Clarke plans to involve her son in her small act of kindness, in what is a difficult time of year for many women.
“I think having youth experience the tangible life is a great gift to be able to give young people,” said Mullin. “When they can connect and actually see somebody, you have a different experience from that exchange.”
Although Clarke doesn’t meet the women she collects the purses for, she has received a few letters that express gratitude.
On one occasion someone sent her a picture of a woman who had received a purse. She said the woman was “all smiles and all tears.”
“The letters would just make me feel very overjoyed, happy, teary eyed, just an expression you can’t really explain,” said Clarke.
About the author
Lucy is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She hails from Mill Cove, Nova Scotia. Her interest in Russian literature led...