‘Brand New Bag’ prepares for bigger fundraiser

Girls Night Out
What: Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag (purse auction fundraiser for SAFE).
When: 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Where: Park Heights restaurant rooftop, 335 East Main, Tupelo.
Info: Silent auction for women’s handbags, live music, cash bar, heavy d’oveures.
Tickets: $10 (available at door).
Bag Donation/Ticket Information: Rhonda Herring, (662) 678-6044.
Web site: http://mamasnewbag.blogspot.com.

The founders of the “Mama’s Got A Brand New Bag” fundraiser were pleased with the results of their first effort after only three weeks of preparation.
Now that they’ve had a year to organize the second fundraiser Tuesday, Rhonda Herring and Maggie Caldwell believe the results will be greater. The more handbags available for women to bid on, the more money it could raise to aid victims of domestic violence.
“I feel like it will be bigger this year because we can do so much more,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got so many more purses and we’ve gotten a bigger response.”
Tuesday’s auction will be an evening of bidding and entertainment on the Park Heights restaurant rooftop in downtown Tupelo. Last year, about 40 handbags were gathered in a short time for a daytime gathering on GumTree Festival weekend.
“We wanted to make it more of a girls’ night out-type thing and have it in a larger venue,” Herring said. “This will let the girls put on their cocktail dresses and have a girls’ night out.”
Proceeds from “Brand New Bag” support SAFE, Inc. The shelter, which has an annual budget of nearly $500,000, provides shelter, counseling, childcare, support groups and transition assistance to victims of domestic violence, including children.
“Brand New Bag” raised $1,700 for SAFE in 2008. During that year, the shelter helped 230 victims, including moms and children.
“Domestic violence is something a lot of people don’t like to think about, and it’s not an easy thing to raise money for,” Herring said. “They’re really proud we set our goals higher this year.”
Herring and Caldwell estimate they’ll have about 80 designer and designer-inspired handbags available for the silent auction. A minimum bid will be set for each bag.
“We’re asking local ladies to donate their used handbags,” Herring said. “They don’t have to be designer. They can be anything. Of course, the better they are, the more money we’ll raise.”
The handbag donations and purchases are tax-deductible.
In addition to money, Caldwell said “Brand New Bag” is raising awareness of SAFE’s services.
“We want people to know there is a place that exists if you need it in the middle of the night,” she said. “If you haven’t been personally affected by domestic violence, then you know somebody who has.”

Contact Bobby Pepper at (662) 678-1592 or bobby.pepper@djournal.com.