Former Miss Texas using love for fashion to help arthritis nonprofits

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Arthritis Foundation is just one of many Houston nonprofits struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but some patients are now using creative ways to raise money.

"One of my biggest struggles was, 'What is my purpose anymore, you know, if I can't leave my house or my bed sometimes?' It was really weighing on my heart," said Nicole Lassiter, an arthritis patient.

Lassiter, a former actress and Miss Texas pageant winner, has started making handbags for the nonprofit.

Over the past month, she's sold at least 25 bags, and made more than $2,500 for arthritis research and treatment.

It's a big deal for the foundation, which organizers expect will come nowhere close to reaching its 2020 fundraising goals.

Plus, it helps fund the foundation's helpline, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week during the pandemic for arthritis patients and their families.

"It's an uncertain time. When you have arthritis, you already have that physical pain, but it's also that emotional well-being that's impacted," said Jen Torres, the executive director of the Houston chapter. "People feel isolated and depressed."

You can reach the helpline at 844-571-HELP.

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