If you've ever crossed paths with Chelsea Marburger, founder of Project Purse Indianapolis, you instantly feel a connection. She is making a huge difference in the Indianapolis community by gathering donated purses, toiletries and stationary to spread to some of the most deserving individuals all through the #PowerOfThePurse.
I've shared bits about Project Purse often but wanted to highlight their donation drive taking place this month. Old National Bank is hosting a donation drive at each of their 20+ Indianapolis locations, providing you the perfect chance to declutter your purse collection or pass off those travel size toiletries that have been gathering dust. You can drop your items off at any of their locations through April 25!
So now it is time to share what the #PowerOfThePurse is all about.
- What need did you see in the community that led you to start Project Purse Indianapolis?
I started Project Purse Indianapolis in response to a need for community amongst circles of women that turn to peer-to-peer selling models (ie Scentsy, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, etc) as way to socialize. I was so tired of getting the girls together for a seemingly fun night just to be hit up for trinkets, purses, etc. that I didn't need. I had my first "Reverse Purse Party" and the organization was born. I had found a way to get the girls together, empower one another and provide something positive to vulnerable women.
- Can you share a bit about the services you provide?
Project Purse Indianapolis provides the #PowerOfThePurse to vulnerable women by packing purses with necessities (feminine hygiene, toiletries, first aid, etc.), beauty products and handwritten cards of hope and encouragement. We provide this power to vulnerable women of every walk of life: struggling teenagers, first time mothers, chemo patients, homeless women and beyond.
- How has Project Purse Indianapolis changed over time?
Because of my background and degree, we established our 501c3 at the very beginning but I operated the organization out of a two bedroom house in Emerson Heights. We packed and donated hundreds of purses out of my guest bedroom. We continued to grow and the sustainability and scale of what we were doing was in danger, so we moved to our first location in Fountain Square where we house all of our purses and products and hold our Reverse Purse Parties.
We are also constantly evolving who we see as a "vulnerable woman." Our original mission was to serve homeless women and teenagers - a very niche market and unique need. As women, we have biological needs that aren't met. The fact remains there are more social services available to a pregnant teenager than to a homeless one trying to get back on the right path. We've also seen the need in the eyes of women that may not be housing insecure but may be emotionally or physically disadvantaged and the #PowerOfThePurse provides them a much needed pick-me-up and boost.
- What types of items can be donated to Project Purse Indianapolis?
Project Purse Indianapolis is always accepting financial, purse and product donation to further our mission. We have an adorable dropbox at outside our office in Fountain Square: 1012 Prospect Street, Indianapolis.
- How can readers get involved?
We are always looking to host donation drives out in the community to expose our brand and purpose to more people. We also love to host reverse purse parties at our location in Fountain Square. It's a great opportunity for people of all ages and a wide variety of "teams" including corporate, family, sports teams, etc. to get involved.
- Is there a specific example you can share of how a purse has changed someone’s life?
My favorite story is that of Valorie who received her first purse at Sheltering Wings in Danville. Using the "Beauty Bucks" she had earned by accomplishing milestones in her program at the domestic violence shelter where she and her three daughters lived, Val purchased a Project Purse Indianapolis purse from the boutique at the shelter. Shortly after, Val and her daughters moved to Coburn Place Safe Haven where they now have their own apartment and room to grow as a family and get their feet underneath them. Upon arriving to their new home, Val & all three of her girls received the #PowerOfThePurse as a welcome home gift. Touched by what we do, Val reached out to me to thank me for the kind words and support and has become one of our most dedicated volunteers.
- How about the number of people in our community have had the chance to benefit from Project Purse? Any idea how many?
- Where do you see Project Purse Indianapolis in the next 3 years?
We want to continue to grow and fill needs throughout the state and eventually the country by providing our model to existing organizations as a program for purchase. We are constantly refining our model and developing best practices but want to partner with organizations that are plugged into their direct communities and understand the need.
- How can we follow along on the great work that Project Purse Indianapolis is doing in the community?