Knoxville hero collects ‘Clutches for Courage’

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Friday was a day Julia Newman, 17, of Knoxville, has been looking forward to. With the help of family, she has brought boxes full of gently used purses to the YWCA for women in need. Newman calls the effort “Clutches for Courage.”

It’s part of her senior service project at Knoxville Catholic High School.

“I thought, what better way to give back to women in need than donated purses? Because there’s a certain confidence you get when you’re proud of your appearance and you can take pride in something,” Newman said.

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Alle Lilly, executive director of the YWCA in Downtown Knoxville, was thrilled when she got the call that Newman had chosen the Y for her project.

“To have a high school student recognize that the women we serve could benefit from having a ‘new to them’ purse is really just outstanding. And I think just speaks a lot about her and her commitment to the community,” Lilly said.

Newman took great care to display the purses at the Y’s boutique, filled with donated clothing, shoes and accessories for women in the housing program there. Often, they arrive with nothing. She set up donation sites at several area businesses and was thrilled when she counted 200 purses.

Julia Newman receives the WATE 6 On Your Side Hero Award
Julia Newman receives the WATE 6 On Your Side Hero Award

“I was shocked. Every week when I would go check, I was completely shocked, ” Newman said. “It’s really great that people were so generous and supportive.”

“We don’t know the circumstances of all these ladies, but I can’t help but think that it’s going to make a big difference if they’re going on a job interview or going someplace social to have something like this,” Dr. Ed Newman, Julia’s dad, said.

The purses will fulfill a big need for the 58 women currently living at the Y, and the ones who will follow.  If you’d like to support the YWCA through donations to support the women’s housing program, or other programs the Y offers, check out its website. Also, follow the Y on Facebook at YWCA Knoxville and on Twitter @YWCAKnoxville.

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