Ricky Wrightwebb wanted something good to come from something terrible. The something terrible was the death of British backpacker Grace Millane in Auckland last year on December 1. The something good is the Love Grace handbag appeal.
Organised by Grace's cousin Hannah O'Callaghan, the Love Grace appeal began in the United Kingdom. Its Facebook page states that the appeal is collecting "handbags and daily essentials to provide to our local refuge" in Grace's name. Now, it is running in Taupō, New Zealand.
To support the Love Grace handbag appeal people are asked to donate a new or barely-used handbag and, if possible, add some toiletries. If they don't have a bag to donate, they can just donate toiletries. The bags will all be filled with toothpaste and toothbrush, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant plus a few luxury extras which can range from wipes, to lip balm, hairbrushes, scarves, bubble bath, sunglasses or other appropriate items.
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The handbags and toiletries can be left at ANZ Bank, corner of Tongariro and Tamamutu Sts in Taupō.
The tag on each bag briefly tells Grace's story. It says Grace's family have created a legacy in her name by fundraising for the White Ribbon charity promoting awareness to end male violence towards women and to continue that, Love Grace bags have been created.
"Donated in memory of our amazing Grace, which contain everyday essentials that we hope will be of benefit to you and help you on your road to a safe future. Believe in yourself, as you matter!"
The appeal logo is a flower drawn by Grace with the words 'Love Grace x' next to it in Grace's own handwriting.
Ricky Wrightwebb, the ANZ Taupō staff member organising the Love Grace collection in Taupō, explains that the bank is not directly involved but providing a drop-off point. So far nearly 60 handbags have been collected, along with scarves, jewellery and toiletries.
At the end of the appeal they will be distributed to the Taupō Police, Women's Refuge and Taupō Hospital to be given away to women who need them.
Wrightwebb said she got the idea of providing a local drop-off point after seeing the Love Grace appeal on Facebook.
"We try to do something for the community every year [at the bank] and I just loved that idea so I messaged [Hannah] and she responded back saying 'perfect, we'd love you to do it'."
Wrightwebb said as far as she was aware this was the only Love Grace appeal being held in New Zealand, although she hoped it would spread further.
Wrightwebb said she was drawn to the appeal because of her respect for Grace, to support Grace's family, and to help other women.
"It's a little hope thing for the ladies that receive these bags."
Ricky says the appeal hasn't been widely publicised but that hasn't stopped word from spreading and the support from the public and the other ANZ staff has been amazing.
"People are just coming in and dropping them in here and we go through them when we've got enough stock and we make the bags up. We've got about 60 bags so far and they're all filled with toiletries."
Ricky thinks the appeal will run until about December 20 and says it's a lovely thing to see.
"People just quietly put [the bags] in here and wander off."