Idea in Clarendon sparks Pack a Purse campaign for homeless

Community groups, individuals donate personal care items

BY SHARRON HALEY
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 11/30/18

MANNING - A simple idea turned into a way to help the homeless during the season of giving.

Tonia Mallett-Smith, widow of Holmes N. Smith Jr., an investigator with Clarendon County Sheriff's Office who died on duty, was sitting around chatting …

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Idea in Clarendon sparks Pack a Purse campaign for homeless

Community groups, individuals donate personal care items

Posted

MANNING - A simple idea turned into a way to help the homeless during the season of giving.

Tonia Mallett-Smith, widow of Holmes N. Smith Jr., an investigator with Clarendon County Sheriff's Office who died on duty, was sitting around chatting with her late husband's aunt when they talked about what they could do for homeless women.

Both women are part of The Inv. Holmes N. Smith Jr. Foundation Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes a strengthening of the relationship between communities and law enforcement. Since its inception, the foundation has organized several events including Cookies for a Cop and our Fire Friends, A Salute to Survivors, Teacher's Ball, 49 Minutes Walking the Line and others. In the future, the foundation will be participating in the Battle of the Badges Blood Drive and the Black & Blue Gala.

"We were sitting and talking about what we could do to give to the homeless," Mallett-Smith said. "I talked with Helen Robinson who is the administrative assistant in Food Services at Clarendon School District 2, and she came up with the name, Pack a Purse."

It may have started as a simple idea, but in just a few short weeks, the idea grew to include more than 250 purses, including popular name brands.

Mallett-Smith said she's already delivered purses to shelters in Florence and Sumter with plans to deliver more purses to shelters in Columbia.

"We donated purses to Ann Driggers with Haven of Rest," she added.

Mallett-Smith said that once word got out about Pack a Purse, donations began streaming in from sororities to churches, friends, family members and organizations.

"My brother, Kevin, clipped coupons and bought items that he put in a box and donated," she said. "Everyone has been so generous. We have quite a few really nice, brand-new purses from some of the top designers. Folks bought the best."

The purses contain toiletries including hand soap, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion, hair supplies, baby wipes and more.

Mallett-Smith, who works for CSD2, said she had schools from across the county step up to the plate.

Several cafeterias donated as well as Walker-Gamble Elementary School, which donated 20 bags.

Mallett-Smith said she'd like to thank the Family Career and Community Leaders of America from F.E. DuBose Career Center and its instructor Willa Shaw for partnering with the Inv. Holmes N. Smith Jr. Foundation Inc.

"They were awesome," she added.

By donating purses packed with necessities, the foundation is able to give back and help others, she said.

"This will be like Christmas to these women," she said. "That's what it's all about."