Today is International Women’s Day, a commemoration of the Women’s Rights Movement worldwide.

It’s also a time to recognize women inspiring others including those here in the Quad Cities.
Deb Bowen from Aledo, Illinois works hard to help local women in need in the community.

About 2 years ago, she started Purses with Purpose. It’s a project that provides necessities for women dealing with homelessness and abuse. 

It’s a group within the organization Love like Lorraine, an effort to continue her mother’s legacy of helping others first.

“We women love our purses.They are just fun, they represent us,” said Purses With Purpose Founder Deb Bowen. 

Purses represent a fashion statement. But the way the right bag can make us feel goes far deeper than just being a way of carrying things around.

Deb Bowen got the idea of giving purses a new purpose. 

“I know there are so many homeless people and homeless youth and at risk youth in this area. I just wanted to do something for them,” said Bowen. “It was just take a purse that was gently use and fill it with things women use.”

Those things may be just as important as the purses themselves.    

“Simple things like deodorant, shampoo, lotion,” said Bowen.

For many women and girls in the Quad Cities these bags provide a sense of hope.

“I take them to a lot of safe homes, girls that are recovering from something,” said Bowen. “They are just thrilled someone is thinking of them, a complete stranger is thinking of them.” 

Liz Kantner sees how difficult it is for some of her students to get their hands on some of these necessities.

“It’s really hard to know the struggles a lot of my students and it’s hard a lot of times when it’s out of control and the chaos in their lives is not something I can do,” Thurgood Marshall Learning Center teacher Liz Kantner. 

But thanks to Bowen, it’s something her kids don’t have to worry about often.

“There are some kids that are couch surfing and know legitimately do not have all of these hygiene products available,” said Kantner. “But it’s nice to be able to have some little bit of stability in their lives that they know they can have these items.”

Bowen’s mission is to bring hope and encouragement, but also create change and make a difference.

“The thing I would really love to see is not because I want to be famous, but because I want to see people get blessed. I would love to see this all over the country, I’d love to see people doing something so simple,” said Bowen. 

This year she started filling drawstring bags for men with products similar to those the women get. 

Recently the Girl Scouts in Orion, Illinois helped Bowen fill a total of 70 purses and drawstring bags. They were given to World Relief’s spring break camp for refugee children. 

If you know someone who could benefit from this you can click here to contact her on Facebook.

If you’d like to donate to her cause you can drop toiletries or purses off at the 180 Zone or contact Deb Bowen on Facebook for a drop off location.