COLUMBIA, Tenn. - A Maury County teenager is reaching out to needy girls in her community, one purse at a time.
Hannah Bryant, now 17, founded Hannah's Purse Drive, at age 12. It started as an effort to clean out old purses from her closet, and it turned into an inspiring effort to help underprivileged teens.
"I am overwhelmed how blessed I am, and I can actually make a difference," said Hannah Bryant.
In its first year, Hannah's Purse Drive helped 50 girls. Now the ministry is in its sixth year, and the goal is to help more than 200.
"It has grown so much," said Bryant. "Without my community, my friends, and my church, this wouldn't be possible."
Due to year-round fundraising, Bryant has filled the basement of her family's Columbia home with purses, school supplies, makeup, mirrors, and thousands of other items any teenage girl would love. Bryant works with local organizations to identify girls ages two to 18 in need, and each December they receive a purse filled with lots of fun items.
"It just fills my heart with joy, said Bryant. "Just seeing their faces light up and their happiness. It is a great, great feeling."
Bryant currently attends Zion Christian Academy. Her work and dedication to Hannah's Purse Drive has been recognized nationally with a Prudential Spirit of Community Award, and locally by many of the groups she helps.
"I know our volunteers enjoy the purses because it helps them connect with the girls they work with," said Kristin Parker, Executive Director of CASA of Maury County. "When you meet Hannah, she has so much energy, and you know she can do anything."
Bryant plans to attend college next year, but wants to keep the ministry alive.
Monday, Sept. 23 Bryant is hosting an open house, so people can see all the items she has collected, and help make donations. The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at 920 Bradford Place, Columbia, TN.
This year's purse giveaway will take place Saturday, Dec. 7 at the New Life Church, 6111 Cayce Lane, Columbia, TN 38401.
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.