California woman aims to help Camp Fire survivors one purse at a time

"We're just kind of trying to give women a fresh start."


Nearly a year after the Camp Fire, Californians are still finding ways to help survivors. Through her nonprofit, Julie Nakayama is helping others, one purse at a time.


"(A purse is) an extension of a woman's home that she wears on her arm," Nakayama said. "And when you don't have a home, it is your home that you're wearing on your arm."

Nakayama started Julie's Purse Project in 2015 to help women experiencing homelessness or escaping violent situations.

In 2018, just seven days into her purse drive, the Camp Fire ripped through Butte County.

"My best friend lived in Magalia, and on Nov. 9, she lost her home and she ended up moving in with my family," Nakayama said.

After the fire, Nakayama's goal shifted to helping as many women as she could. In 2018, she collected and distributed more than 2,450 purses, with 800 going to Camp Fire survivors.

Her goal for 2019 is to distribute 5,000 purses.

"We're just kind of trying to give women a fresh start," Nakayama said.

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