If you are aware of a domestic violence shelter in your area, please consider making a donation to them. This does not necessarily mean a monetary donation, but rather items such as clothing, household and personal products. Many of these shelters depend upon volunteers and donations from the community to keep running. Domestic violence shelters are an extremely important operation, as women and their small children flee to these shelters or “safe houses” every day, to escape a turbulent and often violent home situation.
When most women leave they often have had very little time to plan ahead. This may mean simply fleeing with their children with nothing but the clothes on their backs. In some instances if the police have become involved, they may recommend the woman leave with her children, and only allow them enough time to pack one suitcase and get out of the home while they keep their abuser at bay. This can really be a nightmare for families who find their lives turned upside down, who have had to leave with little or none of their personal property. This can be especially hard on young children.
Members of the community have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of these women and children. By thinking of them during the holiday season, or any other time during the year, you can truly make the difference. If you would like to make a donation, monetary or otherwise, consider a local shelter you already know about, or else look in the yellow pages under “domestic violence.” You should be able to get the number of a local hotline which either is already part of a domestic violence shelter, or they could most likely point you in right direction.
I personally know someone who works at a domestic violence shelter and am aware of the most needed types of items from speaking to her. Clothing for women and children in a variety of sizes is always needed. As mentioned earlier, many families arrive with only the clothes they were wearing when they fled. Also, nice dresses are a good contribution, because at some point these mothers will have to go to court for proceedings against their abuser, to seek orders of protection, or for court dates regarding child custody issues. Hair dryers and curling irons are always needed, and seldom available in many shelters.
Many shelters also need donations of non-perishable food items, toilet paper, paper towels, household cleaning products, personal hygiene items such as toothpaste/toothbrushes, diapers and baby wipes, and female hygiene products such as tampons/liners/pads.
Items for children, such as clean, cuddly blankets, stuffed animals, and toys are also needed. Childrens’ videos, books, DVDs, CDs and old video game systems (and games) are other great items to donate. Other extremely important items for children are school supplies.Some children may have been forced to leave home without having their school items with them. This is when donations of notebooks, pencils, pens, paper, book bags, binders, and other school necessities are a life saver for the family.
Before simply arriving at a shelter and dropping items off at their doorstep, I would strongly recommend calling first to see what items they are accepting and could use. Space is limited, so they may not be able to accept everything you are offering. One time, my friend who works at a shelter told me that someone had actually donated a three bedroom mobile home for any family they had in the shelter that needed it.
Just imagine if your entire life and daily routine was completely unraveled, and you wound up in a shelter environment. Think how disrupting that could be, especially for young children if they did not have some common comfort items to help them feel more at home. There is so much you can do to help out these displaced families while they get back on their feet and get their lives put back together. Your help is guaranteed to be greatly appreciated.