THEY say Christmas is the time of giving and Share the Dignity is asking individuals in Sunraysia to support their #ItsInTheBag appeal.

Donations received will be distributed to local girls and women in need. Bags can be dropped off at Bunnings Mildura up until this Sunday

The initiative, now in its seventh year, aims to ensure that every girl and women spending Christmas in a domestic violence shelter receives the basic essentials – including pads and tampons, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, conditioner and shampoo and soap – as well as little luxuries such as hair accessories or a handwritten note. With COVID-19 pushing more vulnerable females below the poverty line, and at greater risk of domestic violence and homelessness, #ItsInTheBag donations are in high demand.

“We saw the impact of COVID-19 last year – nationally, we received 50,000 fewer bags in 2020, compared to 2019,” Share the Dignity founder Rochelle Courtenay said.

“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.”

Share the Dignity Victoria team leader Donna Levinson-Murray added that fulfilling this year’s requests will be no easy feat.

“As a Victorian, I understand how hard the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdowns has been,” she said.

“For many teen girls and women, this is the only gift they will receive this Christmas.

“I want to encourage Victorians to give where they can, in whatever way they can – that might be putting together a bag, sponsoring a bag online, or as simple as donating the essential items.”

Gabi Alosi received an #ItsInTheBag donation when she found herself homeless at the age of 22 and knows first-hand how a simple gift can provide hope and dignity.

“I experienced homelessness through my mental health,” she said.

“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.

“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.”