Bagging a Christmas Miracle

Share the Dignity is calling on Australians to support women and girls in need this Christmas through their annual #ItsInTheBag Christmas appeal, encouraging people to donate a bag and drop it off at their local Bunnings store between Friday 19 November and Sunday 28 November 2021.

The initiative, which is now in its seventh year, aims to ensure that every woman and girl spending Christmas in a domestic violence shelter receives the basic essentials – including pads and tampons, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and soap – as well as little luxuries such as hair accessories or a handwritten note.

With COVID-19 pushing more vulnerable women and girls below the poverty line, and at greater risk of homelessness and domestic violence, #ItsInTheBag donations are in high demand. According to recent research from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Centre for Justice, more than 60% of domestic and family violence service providers across the country reported an increase in the number of people seeking help during the early stages of the pandemic.

However, due to the persistent COVID-19 lockdowns and financial stress impacting many Australians, Share the Dignity Founder and Managing Director, Rochelle Courtenay, said the charity was preparing for another donation deficit in 2021.

“We clearly saw the impact of COVID-19 last year – we received 50,000 fewer bags in 2020, compared to 2019. This just shows the strain on those who might not be able to donate at this time, but the need is still there – in fact, we are seeing more vulnerable women and girls looking for support than ever before.

“We’re expecting to have more than 200,000 charity requests this year – this is the most we’ve ever received and fulfilling this will be no easy feat. That’s why we launched our Sponsor A Bag initiative, to give supporters the option to donate virtually if they are unable to visit their local Bunnings drop-off point.

“Ultimately, we’re encouraging Australians to give where they can, in whatever way they can – that might be lovingly putting together a bag, donating online, or volunteering your time. For many women and girls, this is the only gift they will receive this Christmas. A simple gift can provide hope and dignity, and that’s what the festive season is all about,” Ms Courtenay said.

This is something that Gabi Alosi knows first-hand, having received an #ItsInTheBag donation when she found herself homeless at the age of 22.

“I experienced homelessness through my mental health. I had a suicide attempt and wasn’t allowed to come back to my residence. So, I ended up in a youth homeless shelter. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody else,” Gabi said.

“The bag made me feel incredibly loved and cared for, and that was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time either from myself or others. It meant a lot to me that people felt that I even deserved to receive a bag, and that they were proud of me for moving forward in my life.”

Bunnings’ General Manager - Operations Ryan Baker said they were proud to support Share the Dignity’s #ItsInTheBag appeal for the fifth year running, with the annual appeal collecting over 500,000 bags to date.

“Our team and customers are excited to once again be getting behind this important campaign to help support some of Australia’s most vulnerable women and girls. 

“It’s been another tough year with communities facing the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 alongside many other challenges. We know the need for support in the community is bigger than ever before and we are proud to play a small part in helping Share the Dignity to continue the great work they do,” continued Ryan.

“Our team love this campaign, with the decoration of the collection boxes hitting new creative heights each year. If they are able to, we encourage our team and customers to donate and drop a bag in the collection box at their local Bunnings to help make a difference to women and girls in need,” said Ryan.

Those wanting to support women and girls like Gabi can drop off an #ItsInTheBag donation to their nearest Bunnings store from 19-28 November 2021, Sponsor a Bag online, or register to become a Share the Dignity volunteer. Donations will be distributed to Australians in need in time for Christmas via Share the Dignity’s charity partners, and supporters can Sponsor A Bag year-round.