BRAZORIA — Judy Parker with American Legion Post 561 made it her mission to give women veterans some flashy accessories.

“I think it is a wonderful thing,” she said. “We just want to reach out.”

The American Legion Post 561 distributed gently used purses filled with toiletries and goodie bags to female veterans on Sept. 11. The designer bags also were distributed at the VA Lake Jackson Clinic for female veterans who are seeking assistance there and at the VA Michael DeBakey Hospital in Houston.

All members of the Legion participated in collecting donated purses, and items put into the bags were donated by members, Parker said.

The simple gift of giving purses to veterans went a long way, Parker said.

“These purses were gently used purses,” she said. “They were all nice purses, nothing that had any marking or anything on them.”

One veteran in particular was elated at getting a purse, Parker said.

“She was so excited,” Parker said. “She said, ‘Oh. This is just like Christmas.’ It is just something that she was very pleased to have been given.”

Sonya Broadway, veteran service officer with Brazoria County, helped give away the purses, a first for her, she said.

“This is the first time they have done this purse thing through us,” she said. “They have done gift boxes and little baskets with washing stuff and plates and bowls and things like that, like housewarming baskets.”

People might not think of purses as something a veteran could use, but many of the recipients are attending college or going to job interviews and need a glitzy, fashionable accessory with them, Broadway said.

“It is a very nice accessory to any young lady,” she said. “I thought that it was a very good idea.”

The purses have also gone to widows of veterans who haven’t gotten a purse upgrade in years, Broadway said.

Many women were surprised at the range of brand choices and were so appreciative and grateful, she said.

“To be able to upgrade or get something bigger or better was just a nice little surprise,” she said. “They do not have the money sometimes to get some of these things. I thought it was a great idea.”

The purse concept is something she would like to do again in the future, given the reaction she received from the veteran community, Parker said.

“Yes,” she said. “We could definitely consider this a project for next year. It is a good thing. We just appreciate it so much.”

Connor Behrens is a reporter at The Facts. Contact him at bliving@thefacts.com.

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