72 purses are ready to be delivered on Christmas Eve for women in Iqaluit shelters. photo courtesy by Renee Druggett

Two years ago, on Christmas morning, Renee Druggett woke up to the joy and gratitude of the other patients in the hospital room. A smiling nurse handed out a gift bag consisting of a purse with female products to all five women, including herself.

The day before Druggett had been feeling lonely. In fact, she had been contemplating about committing suicide on Christmas Day. It had been a difficult year burdened with financial stress, relationship issues and depression. Earlier that month she was admitted to the hospital for her suicidal thoughts.

“I had the opportunity to witness the expressions, gratitude and excitement, first-hand from the women who received the purses…and it was amazing,” explained Druggett referring to that Christmas day in 2017.

“To be a part of something like that gives you a feeling of such joy and happiness that something so little … can make a difference in someone’s life, even if only for a short time.”

Ironically, a year earlier in 2016 while in Newfoundland, Druggett had become involved in a campaign called Princess and the Purse.

The goal of the campaign is to gift single and struggling moms with purses and female products for Christmas Day. A gift that will “give women hope and a sense of feeling loved … make them feel like a princess on Christmas Day,” said Druggett.

A friend who had taken over Druggett’s campaign had sent the gifts to the hospital.

“I had no idea they (purses) were coming to us,” explained Druggett.

Witnessing how the purses had made a difference in these women’s lives, literally saved Druggett’s own life.

Helping women in the North

After moving to Iqaluit in 2018, the single mom has been running the Princess and the Purse campaign in the North. She has been giving purses to women at Apex’s Qimaavik Shelter and Iqaluit’s Sivummut House.

“I know what it’s like to struggle and know what it’s like not to have anything at Christmas,” said Druggett.

Last year she delivered 33 purses. This holiday season, due to generous donations, she and her boyfriend, Louis-Rene Lafleur, have prepared 72 purses. The purses contain items like: lipstick, hand cream, chocolates, candy, gum, make-up and tampons.

She plans on delivering the gifts to the women’s shelters on Christmas Eve. The gifts will be handed out on Christmas morning.

“Giving someone a reason to smile Christmas morning, even if it is only for the time they open the purse, is what makes this all worthwhile,” Druggett said.

It was due the donations from the Regional Women Committee, the Thrift Store and the Nunavut Oral Health Project, this campaign was successful this year, emphasized Druggett.

She has already received a donation of $1,000 from the Royal Purple that will go towards next year’s campaign.

“Our goal next year is to make sure all the women’s shelters across Nunavut will have a purse on Christmas Day,” said Druggett.

Lots of items were donated to the Princess and the Purse campaign this year. Photo courtesy by Renee Druggett


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