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    One local high school student is turning tragedy into a trend-setting triumph. See how she's supporting a global mission with a local fashion-focused event where you can help the cause one handbag at a time.

    Items available at LouLou’s Boutique

    On Jan. 1, 2013, tragedy struck. A small space heater started a fire on the second-floor of an off-campus home near the University of Cincinnati.

    Ellen Garner, who was studying Fashion Design at DAAP, and her friend were trapped in the converted attic space above the flames. Overcome by toxic smoke, Garner and her friend passed away from inhalation injuries only days later.

    To honor Garner, a talented seamstress who died just weeks shy of her 21st birthday, the Ellen Garner Memorial Tailoring Shop was founded at the Angel House Orphanage in Tarime, Tanzania, the following summer.

    According to Oak Hills High School Senior Abby Rembold, the shop is a vocational opportunity to teach those at the orphanage the fundamentals of sewing.

    Rembold was inspired to find a way to sponsor the charity after Anna, a woman from the orphanage, stayed with her family. Anna spoke with Rembold’s mother, Nancy, who invited other friends, and listened to her talk about the orphanage and how the purses are made.

    Aside from the story of the fire and the visit from Anna, something else struck a chord with Rembold: the purses haven’t been available for purchase in a local retail location. So, as part of her senior capstone, 17-year-old Rembold is hosting Purses with a Purpose at LouLou’s Boutique (a Westside-based women’s clothing store her mother Nancy owns) on December 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The goal for the project, Rembold says, is to help solve a problem, no matter whether it’s a local or global issue.

    “Through this event I want to help with spreading awareness of the orphanage and raise money for the kids to be able to become everyday citizens,” she says.

    One of Ellen’s dreams was EG BAGS,” says Rembold. “Your donation for a purse supports this ministry with fabric, instructors and school fees.

    According to Rembold, those who attend the event will learn about how orphans in Tanzania are learning everyday skills that will help them strive in everyday life when they become adults and can no longer live in the orphanage and return back to their villages.

    “One of the skills kids acquire is learning how to sew, which is where the purses come in,” she adds. “Each purse is made by a kid in Tanzania, and has their name tag on it so the person who buys the purse knows who made it.”

    While the money spent on purchasing a purse is a donation, and there is not a set price, those in charge of distributing the purses say donating between $15 and $20 is nice, and anything more would be amazing.

    Rembold is hoping to do more than just raise funds for the children at the orphanage. “After leaving this event, I want my attendees to leave with more knowledge about the Angel House Orphanage, and feel thankful for everything they have because some kids don’t,” she says. “I also want them to have gratification for doing something for someone else, especially during the holiday season.”

    Rembold says her goal is for 50 more more shoppers to attend the event and hopes to raise $1,000 for the charity. LouLou’s Boutique is located at 6145 Bridgetown Road in Cincinnati.