On Tuesday night, Oct. 23, a purse is the ticket to a good time — and for fighting a good cause — at Power of the Purse, an event being hosted in Towson by the Baltimore County Commission for Women and the Samaritan Women organization
The night's goal is to raise awareness, and ultimately money through the resale of the donated purses, all to fight human trafficking, an issue that Commission for Women members say has seen increasing concern in Baltimore County, and Maryland overall.
New or gently used purses can be dropped off curbside on Tuesday, from 3 to 7 p.m., outside 7 West Bistro Grille, 7 West Chesapeake Ave., Towson.
Inside the restaurant, a VIP reception will be held with Baltimore County Executive Ken Kamenetz, County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, Chief of Police Jim Johnson and other dignitaries, including Debbie Phelps.
Trucks will be available to accept the purse donations, while 7 West Bistro Grille will donate 15 percent of its proceeds beginning at 6:30 p.m. toward Samaritan Women. There will also be a display of some of the "celebrity" purses that have already been donated as part of a "100-plus VIP Purses" collection, including those from Maryland First Lady Katie O'Malley, City Comptroller Joan Pratt and former state schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick.
"It's going to be enormously fun," said Janice MacGregor, event chair for the commission. "So many people are involved. It just spread like wildfire through various women's groups."
The groups have the goal of filling two trucks with new or gently used purses — which will later be sold to aid the work of those fighting human trafficking.
Response has already been positive, MacGregor said.
"There are all styles for all seasons," she said of scores of purses already collected. "I've got a house full of purses."
According to the Commission for Women, human trafficking has proliferated because of demand and economic situation. The Maryland Rescue and Restore Coalition notes that Federal law defines human trafficking as the recruiting, harboring, transporting, provisioning or obtaining of persons, by means of force, fraud or coercion, for labor or services or the removal of organs. If the victim is under 18, the crime is automatically considered a severe form of human trafficking.
Trafficking is considered the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, according to the coalition, second only to drug trafficking; and can take the form of forced labor — often under a threat of violence or to pay a debt — sex trafficking, child exploitation and even organ harvesting.
Funds raised through the Power of the Purse campaign will help Samaritan Women programs, including its Restoration Home that aids victims.
For more information on Power of the Purse, call 443-465-0150 or visit http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/women/pursepower.html. For more on ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking, go to http://www.marylandcoalition.org.
To report incidents of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, at 1-888-3737-888.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun