Bags galore

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JOY OF GIVING: Mid Canterbury’s Love Grace donations were received by Mid-South Island Women’s Refuge and Family Services Refuge co-manager Tepora Whaturia (left), from appeal organiser Eliza Waszczak.
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Bags of all shapes, colours and sizes have been given by Mid Cantabrians to the Love Grace appeal.

Beauty Worx Day and Medi Spa owner Eliza Waszczak, who was this year’s Mid Canterbury appeal organiser, said she was thrilled with the number of 126 donated.

It had been a lot of work, but worth every moment.

‘‘I will 100 per cent be doing it again,’’ she said.

‘‘The Beauty Worx staff have been incredibly helpful at being involved, also my children and husband have been the best helpers, cleaning and checking each bag has the correct items and then packing and unloading the car. Involving the family was wonderful.’’

Love Grace is an international domestic violence appeal held in memory of Grace Millane. She was a 21-year old United Kingdom resident who was strangled to death while on holiday in Auckland in 2018 by her Tinder date.

The annual appeal began in 2020 in New Zealand. Grace had a love of handbags, so in her memory handbags containing items such as toiletries are collected in many countries to be given to women who have experienced domestic violence.

LOVE HAND BAGS: Eliza Waszczak shows some of the handbags received from Mid Cantabrians for the Love Grace appeal.

Mid Canterbury’s donations have now been passed on to Mid-South Island Women’s Refuge and Family Services to give to their clients from across Mid and South Canterbury Refuge co-manager Tepora Whaturia said the bags go out faster than they come in.

‘‘The women are in awe that someone who doesn’t know them was thinking about them,’’ Whaturia said.

National organiser of the appeal, Kylie Ann Kearney, said in 2020 the national collection from the seven locations set up around New Zealand reaped in 1000 bags. The most collected so far over the four years the appeal had been operating was 1800.

This year’s target was 1500. There were 66 official drop off points around New Zealand.

‘‘We collected 5269 bags nationwide. The appeal this year has been way more successful than I could have dreamed off,’’ Kearney said.

‘‘For some women the handbag they are given is the only handbag they have ever owned,’’ Kearney said.

So far, the Love Grace has supported more than 15,600 domestic abuse victims world-wide.

‘‘I am very thankful to the community for gifting the handbags and their contents. The receivers will love them,’’ Waszczak said.