Contribute to crucial local programs and find your next favorite accessory through Women Sharing Hope, a beloved non-profit organization focused on women and children in need. From April 13 to April 16, Women Sharing Hope will host an online handbag auction with proceeds going to Engedi Refuge and the Wildbird Charities Backpack Program.

Mary Gibb, co-owner of Gary’s Plumbing and Heating and Women Sharing Hope’s board president, recently sat down with WhatcomTalk to share details about WSH’s mission and the upcoming auction.

Gibb has been with WSH for about two decades. What began as a group of Whatcom County women hosting an annual ball has become a non-profit organization that’s raised over $1 million for the women and children of Whatcom County. The organization’s main event evolved from the ball to an annual luncheon and handbag auction 21 years ago. This year, the handbag auction will be held online, due to COVID.

This year, Women Sharing Hope’s annual handbag auction will have a Bollywood theme for their carefully curated and colorful packages up for bidding. Photo courtesy: Women Sharing Hope

“We’re going to have over 50 handbags and they will be themed,” says Gibb. “Our theme for the event is Bollywood, so there will be some items that fit in with that and some spring-themed packages as well.” All of the handbags are brand new and uniquely packaged for the auction. “They’re just so darned fun. It’s spectacular to see these packages put together — the creativity is off the walls.”

In the past, WSH has donated to a wide range of other programs and charities throughout the county that focus on women and children. Women Sharing Hope will donate this year’s auction proceeds to Engedi Refuge and the Wildbird Charities Backpack Program.

Members of Women Sharing Hope are a close-knit group of women working to support their community. Photo courtesy: Women Sharing Hope

“Engedi Refuge helps young females that have been a part of sex trafficking and need a place to heal and be supported,” says Gibb. “Wildbird Charities Backpack Program identifies needy kids at schools, and they are given a backpack to go home with them on the weekends, helping prevent childhood hunger. They might get school lunches during the week, but on the weekend, there may not be enough food for them. There’s usually some food for them in the backpack that is healthy and easy to prepare.”

Executive Director of Engedi Refuge Aaron Newcomb weighs in about what Women Sharing Hope’s support means for their organization and the importance of their cause. “Engedi has been helping women stay safe from their traffickers and find a sense of peace, healing, and hope for their future since 2013. Engedi is one of the most successful programs of its kind in the U.S., offering trauma-informed holistic care that is making a radical difference in the lives of trafficked women,” says Newcomb. “We are so grateful for the support and partnerships of amazing agencies like Women Sharing Hope.”

Mary Gibb with Gary’s Plumbing & Heating (right) is ecstatic to donate to Women Sharing Hope and support their online auction this year. Photo courtesy: Women Sharing Hope

Gary’s Plumbing & Heating is excited to donate to the auction and endorse the impactful efforts of Women Sharing Hope in the Whatcom community. Gibb highlights WSH’s recent work in Sumas after the catastrophic floods and how its community fund lends help to those in need.

“The teachers at Sumas had all of their classrooms flooded, so we gave certificates to each of the teachers to support them,” says Gibb. “There have been times where there’s been an unfortunate tragic event in a family, and with our community fund, we can help with those urgent needs.”  

Round up at the Fairhaven Haggen register between now and May 4th to contribute to the Women Sharing Hope community fund. Photo courtesy: Women Sharing Hope

Join Women Sharing Hope and help serve two incredibly vital organizations in Whatcom County while bidding on beautifully curated packages. The Bollywood-themed auction takes place April 13–April 16 and is a free online event. Register online at BiddingOwl.com. Bidding will open at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and end at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Also, now through May 24th at the Fairhaven Haggen store, you can round up at the register and contribute to the Women Sharing Hope community fund. Just a few cents here and there throughout the community will make a big impact!


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