LAS VEGAS – Miss Idaho, Whitney Wood, 19, is competing in Miss American 2013 this week in Las Vegas, Nev. The finals of Miss America will be televised on ABC beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Miss Idaho is a semi-finalist for the Miss America Quality of Life Awards. These awards were introduced in 1988 to recognize contestants who excel in their commitment to community service.
Miss Idaho is one of seven who are competing for this award. Wood's project is Handbags of Hope: "Giving Women Confidence They Can Carry."
“I like the service projects that are connected with Miss America,” said Miss Idaho. “My platform is Handbags of Hope.
“Handbags of Hope started as my senior project,” she said. “When my purse broke, I realized I carried everything I needed in it. My purse was kind of my security blanket.
“I started looking on the internet and came across Texas Advocacy Network,” Wood said. “From ideas found on that site, I started Handbags of Hope.
“People contribute gently used or new handbags that are given to women in need,” said Miss Idaho. “Each handbag is filled with 16 items, including hygienic needs.
“The items can be adapted for the woman’s need,” Wood said. “Women in domestic abuse situations are given larger bags, sometimes with child’s toys in them.
“I’m working with an organization now in the Boise Valley called ‘Dress for Success’ that helps women prepare to enter the workforce,” she said.
Idaho’s Distinguished Young Woman organization has designated Handbags of Hope as its statewide service project.
“It’s very gratifying to see Handbags of Hope go statewide,” said Miss Idaho.
Now Wood needs help in votes for the People's Choice Award. The winner of the People's Choice will automatically be chosen for the top 15 spots and featured in the live broadcast on Saturday.
To vote for Miss Idaho, visit missamerica.org/videocontest/, scroll to Miss Idaho, see her two-minute video and then vote.
Miss Idaho has need won a Miss America competition. In 1971, Miss Idaho Karen Herd was named first runner-up.