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Handbags for Hope

Handbags for Hope

IEUW’s Inaugural Handbags for Hope Event Raises more than $25,000 to Support Local Students

More than 100 Inland Empire area female leaders in business and philanthropy-and a few good men, too-joined forces Wednesday to raise more than $25,000 to help local children and students improve academic success and achieve their educational dreams.

The money was raised through Handbags for Hope, which is the inaugural signature fundraising event for the newly-formed Women United affinity group for Inland Empire United Way. Handbags for Hope, presented by L.A. Girl, was held May 2 at La Villa Bella in Upland, CA.

Event proceeds support IEUW Women United’s signature initiatives-ieReads and Launch Point. ieReads promotes literacy and helps young students achieve grade level reading by the end of 3rd grade. Launch Point aims to inspire, motivate, and equip students with the information and resources they need to achieve the career of their dreams.

Handbags for Hope featured an exhilarating purse auction and dinner experience that celebrated the impact Women United is already having in the Inland Empire. The rainy weather could not dampen the excitement felt by everyone at the facility as they competed to outbid each other for over 80 designer handbags in a lively combination silent and live auction. No one left empty handed as each attendee was given a generous goody bag filled with items donated by Beauty 21, Tommy Hilfiger, Nick Chavez Beverly Hills, and more.

“My family, co-workers and friends had an amazing night! What a good time it was!” gushed Jenny Padilla with Safelite Auto Glass. “It was such pleasure to attend the “Handbags for Hope” 1st annual event sponsored by Women United! The food, purse auction and the women attending were all amazing! Safelite is honored to partner with Women United to support education in our local schools. What a fun filled evening! We cannot wait until next year!”

“Leave it to women to create an event where they can change the world and have fun at the same time,” quipped Gary Madden, IEUW’s Interim CEO. “The excitement was palpable. Everyone was smiling and laughing. Our Women United Affinity Group provides a platform for empowering amazing women to learn about and exercise leadership, philanthropy and advocacy. United Way is their mechanism to give back, make a huge difference in the lives and futures of children in our communities.”

“The event was fruitful. Not only did the ladies get to shop for wonderful handbags and eat some delicious food, they had a fantastic opportunity to learn about the Inland Empire United Way and all the great work we do out in our communities,” stated Shirli Driz, Regional Banking District Manager with Wells Fargo and member of the Board of Directors for IEUW. “It was truly a great success!”

The event would not have been possible without the support of generous sponsors-Beauty 21/L.A. Girl, Tommy Hilfiger, Safelite Auto Glass, The California Endowment, Fairplex, Wells Fargo, Inland Valley News, and Cambridge College. In-kind donations were provided by Nick Chavez Beverly Hills, Tommy Hilfiger, Claire’s, St. John, Terra Vate Beauty, Big Al’s, Coach, Advantage Painting Solutions, Mike St. Onge, Kelly Vickers, Jeanette Sepulveda, Cari Thomas, Soo Myland, Shirli Driz, Steve Wiens, and Charming Charlie. Table sponsors included Enterprise, KALEO Real Estate, Laurel Eriksen, Gerdau, QTC Management, and Lynda Will with UPS.

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Anyone interested in learning more about Women United should visit the website at and are encouraged to attend the upcoming Wine Wednesday networking event held June 27 at the Fairplex in Pomona.
Inland Empire United Way is committed to improving the lives and futures of children and families in need by investing in Education, Health, and Financial Stability. We are proud that contributions given local, stay local and an impressive 88% of every dollar is invested in direct program activities. By partnering with a network of local nonprofit organizations, United Way delivers critical services to our community, connects individuals in crisis with needed resources through 2-1-1, and increases the power of local charities by providing dedicated volunteers.