'Tis the season to be jolly and giving, and a group of women in the Minot community have taken that idea to heart. The group, Power of the Purse, has been seen at various events around town wearing bright pink and are ready to give again to women and children in the community.
Life has gotten too busy and there's less time for volunteering, according to Power of the Purse president Gina Blasing, so the group decided to do an activity that just involves giving to people. The ladies went shopping using group funds and donated coats along with other cold weather accessories to the Salvation Army's Day of Giving event. Blasing said they wanted to focus on older kids this year so they selected items that they thought would appeal to older kids.
The Salvation Army's annual Day of Giving will take place Dec. 21 at the Minot State University Dome. Families need to sign up in advance by calling the Salvation Army at 838-8925 and can set up a time to walk through the line, which takes place from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Food for the family's Christmas meal will also be distributed at the Day of Giving. Families are given a basket of food and also receive a coupon for the perishable items so that they can have a holiday meal.
Two members of Power of the Purse select winter accessories at Old Navy in Dakota Square Mall. The group uses funds from their treasury to buy coats and other winter accessories for children, then donate the clothing to the Salvation Army’s Day of Giving event.
Blasing said Power of the Purse usually have six to 10 individuals who help at the Day of Giving, but it takes a lot more than that. Group members also go to two or three retailers at Dakota Square Mall and select coats and other winter clothing for women and children. The stores are very cooperative about donating and boxing up the items, Blasing noted, and this year group members received donations from Sears, Target and Old Navy.
"When we agreed to take on this project, we knew there were so many families who needed assistance," Blasing said. "With the Salvation Army (Day of Giving) program, they get new instead of used coats and food baskets." She, along with other members of Power of the Purse, think it's so nice to give children, especially teenagers, new, nice coats that they'll wear and care for, she remarked.
"When you walk families through (the line at Day of Giving), it really rips your heart out," Blasing said. "We take things for granted."
Last year, the number of families who walked through the line at the Day of Giving event was down, Blasing said, maybe because of the flood. People were so into recovery, she speculated, that the holiday maybe went by the wayside.
Power of the Purse started in 2007 as a charitable giving circle formed under the direction of the Minot Area Community Foundation. It was formed by a small group of women who decided to organize 25 powerful, positive and intelligent women to network and strengthen the community by financially investing together and giving of their time and resources. They focus on programs that benefit women and children in Minot.
The group meets three times a year, said Blasing. In the fall, they decide what projects they will do and in February, they have a budget meeting and a social, she explained, and then in the spring, they give scholarships to single mothers who are going to college. The group's mission is to help women and children in the community, Blasing continued, but never outside of Minot.
The first major project for Power of the Purse was the Magic Smiles playground at Oak Park, Blasing said, and members were major contributors of time and funding. Blasing said they also provide scholarships for single women attending Minot State University, give funding for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, give funding for the YWCA, provide clothing and funding for the Salvation Army's Day of Giving, and give funding for the Second Story programs. Power of the Purse participated in the Weekend of Hope event as well. In addition, they also select one elementary school and have the principal choose a child in need who would be the most deserving and pay for a class through Minot State University's College for Kids, she added.
The next project that Power of the Purse will be involved in is with the Roosevelt Park Zoo's Discovery Barn, Blasing said. "We're really excited about that." Also coming up will be a personal safety training class for teenage girls, she noted, and they are hoping to have it take place at the end of the school year. Power of the Purse will give an alarm, a light and instructions on how to avoid dangerous situations.
Blasing encourages all women to get involved in giving and Power of the Purse. The group currently has 30 members and is planning to increase to 40 members. Women interested in joining can call the Minot Area Community Foundation at 852-0646.
"You can make a much more significant difference in something you're passionate about and if you pool your money and efforts together," Blasing said. "If 10 of you put your dollars together, you can help that much more."