A group of students at the Marconi campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Sydney are helping women living in poverty by putting together gift bags for Cape Breton Transition House, the Every Woman's Centre and the Jane Paul Mi'kmaq Resource Centre.

The project is called Goodies for Gals and the funding comes from a provincial program called Difference Dollars. It gives money to students who want to help in the community and gain hands-on experience using their classroom training.

Lisa MacDonald, Sarah MacDonald, Allison Syms and Jalise Campbell created Goodies for Gals. 

Comforts and necessities

"A lot of women, we've found through research, are single mothers and any money they have is going towards their children and the bills they need to pay," said Lisa MacDonald. 

"So they're lacking in things that they need in everyday life. So we've got jewelry, necklaces, necessities like tampons and soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, all that kind of stuff." 

Sarah MacDonald said their project allows her to reflect on her own experience: "Growing up, that was kind of my mom's situation. Whatever money she got in the house, it went towards bills and whatever she could do for us. She was always putting us first.

"So it's important to me that the moms of these kids ... also get to feel special and they also get the recognition that they're doing good, and that there are people who appreciate what they're doing." 

NSCC Marconi president Fred Tilley

NSCC Marconi president Fred Tilley says the project lets students take what they've learned and apply it in the community. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Marconi campus principal Fred Tilley said the students take what they've learned in their courses and bring it into the community to make a difference.

"They'll have that sense of community and that sense of wanting to give back and continue to do that going forward in their career."

Wanda Earhart, a support worker at Every Woman's Centre, said every day she sees women who are struggling to put food on their table or buy simple necessities like bus tickets.

"That's what we are here for, to help people bridge that gap," she said. 

"I think it's just wonderful for students to go out in the community and ask what is it we can really do [to] make a difference."

The 100 gift bags will be delivered by the end of the month.

Wanda Earhart, Every Woman's Centre

Wanda Earhart at Every Woman's Centre says she sees women every day who are struggling to put food on the table. (George Mortimer/CBC)