Whenever he hands me the tote that doubles as my purse, my husband invariably grimaces at its weight and asks, “What’s in this thing?”
Invariably, my answer is “Everything.”
And that might be an understatement.
This week, from Wednesday to Friday, the ninth annual Clutch for a Cause celebrates this most useful of accessories while raising funds for — and also celebrating — the San Miguel Resource Center (SMRC), the local nonprofit that advocates for those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.
The event, the brainchild of Two Skirts owner Kristin Holbrook, sees women (and men) donate gently used handbags, clutches, pocketbooks, purses, wallets and totes, which are then resold at prices that range from $5 to $75 at a table outside the main street boutique. SMRC staff is on hand to discuss the organization and its work.
Two Skirts also offers a 20 percent discount on new bags during the sale. All donors and new bag purchasers are entered to win a Michelle Daccarett bag.
The fundraiser will kick off with an opening reception on Wednesday, featuring local author Marla Meredith, who will be on hand to sign copies of her cookbook, “High Altitude Cuisine,” and serve light bites from her own recipes. New this year is a raffle for a Two Skirts handbag.
SMRC Executive Director Riley McIntyre said she is looking forward to it.
“Clutch for a Cause is a fun event where we get to interact with new people and explain the importance of our work,” she said. “What makes this fundraiser special, though, is Kristin. We are so blessed that there are people like her in the community who recognize the need for the work SMRC does and who go above and beyond to support us not only financially, but also by giving us a platform to share information about our services.”
For her part, Holbrook said of her motivation for founding the fundraiser, “I wanted to create awareness of SMRC for the summer crowd in Telluride, as an additional fundraiser to the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling, which takes place in February. I was on the board of SMRC and chaired the Fling for 10 years so it made sense for me to choose SMRC as our cause. I’m no longer on the board or involved with the fling, but this is my way of staying connected to and helping their cause.”
Holbrook’s enthusiasm for the event is evident.
“We definitely have ladies who both contribute and shop annually,” she said. “Last year, I had a customer who said she didn’t need a new bag, so she just gave me a donation equivalent to a new bag purchase of $400. Each year we get some crazy bags. I can’t even explain. You have to show up to see.”
McIntyre added that funds generated by Clutch for a Cause have a direct impact on SMRC clients.
“Money raised at fundraisers like Clutch for a Cause is essential for SMRC because it is not restricted,” she pointed out. “Funds from grants make our work possible, but there are many guidelines that direct how the money is spent. Each client’s situation is very different and does not necessarily fit within the rules of grant money, so it is imperative we have discretionary funds that allow us to meet the unique needs of each client.”
Listen to McIntyre and it becomes clear that SMRC’s work is comprehensive and diverse.
“SMRC empowers and advocates for anyone affected by domestic violence and sexual assault,” McIntyre said. “In 2018, we provided services to 205 unduplicated clients. Services include things like our 24-hour crisis line, emergency safe housing, legal and personal advocacy, medical accompaniment, financial assistance and goal setting. Services are driven by the needs and goals of each individual client. We do not just focus on crisis intervention, we want to shift the culture through prevention education and community awareness as well. To that end, our prevention educators facilitated 438 presentations to youth throughout our service region in 2018, and we engaged in over 100 awareness activities or educational presentations in the community.”
McIntyre also said that collaborations like the one with Two Skirts are a priority for SMRC. “They help us to meet the diverse and complex needs of survivors. Only through these important community connections, can we make more people aware about the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault as well the services available.”
Donations of gently used handbags, clutches, pocketbooks, purses, wallets and totes are accepted through Tuesday. For more information about SMRC, visit smrcco.org.