The combination of women and purses have created an economic powerhouse for the Franklin County Area United Way with its annual Power of the Purse events.

The United Way launched the popular purse auction fundraiser in 2007.

In 2017, six local events brought in $103,527 for the United Way, including the Pacific Power of Purse which raised $21,657; Washington, $20,419; New Haven, $18,681; Union, $18,540; Sullivan, $1,491; and St. Clair, $9,301.

“These events are crucial to the success of the United Way campaign,” said Kim Strubberg, executive director.

The event utilizes community leaders and uniformed first responders to model the purses. Pacific always had a big turnout and has outgrown its location three times.

The 2018 Power of the Purse will be held Thursday, March 8, at Eagles, 707 W. Congress, which seats 350.

The cost is $25 each or $200 for a table of eight, which includes a full dinner and drinks.

Tickets can be purchased from Jean Guffey at the Tri-County Senior Center or Pat Dubuque at Bank Star.

For many years, the Pacific Power of the Purse was held in the McHugh-Dailey building. The 2015 event was held at the Tri-County Community Senior Center.

“It was obvious that if we wanted the event to grow it would have to be held somewhere other than the senior center,” Strubberg said.

The McLaren family offered to host the next year’s event at Haue Valley.

“It was an incredible evening in a gorgeous spot,” Strubberg said. “However, with nearly 200 in attendance, it was clear that we had grown too large for that venue as well.”

Strubberg said the 2017 Power of the Purse was held at the Holiday Inn in Eureka, where again, the more than 200 women who attended were crowded, and the models had a difficult time getting around to all the ladies with their purses.