Last year, I started emailing back and forth with Julia, the volunteer and outreach coordinator at Metropolitan Family Services (Specifically Family Shelter Service) about needs in the area.
This is from their website: Since 1976, Family Shelter Service has answered the call in our community to help victims of domestic violence escape abuse and rebuild their lives. We work to eliminate barriers, provide faster, greater and more equal access to services in an environment where survivors can feel supported and empowered to disentangle from their situation. Together, we are building community and providing lifesaving services and critical programs to serve our clients as they restore their self-worth and their lives.
Being that I am someone who has been undoubtedly blessed with much, I have always felt the pull to give back-- and I love finding new and impactful ways to do it. Oftentimes, we are quick to donate things we no longer need, but that may not necessarily benefit the people we think we're helping. Which is where Julia came into play for me. I love that when I ask her for specific needs, she is quick to be straightforward with me so I can get a move on it.
In the beginning of December, I helped moms in domestic abuse situations "shop" (for free) in the Holiday Shoppe that FSS puts together each year. The entire shop is made of NEW donated items (not used) separated into categories that include needs and wants for both mom and her children. This includes clothes, pajamas, toiletries, toys, hair and makeup products, bedding, and more. Each mom, based on the size of her family, also gets gift cards **many of these women don't use any digital debit/credit cards because of the abuse situation they may be hiding from** for places like Target, gas stations, Starbucks, etc. These are all donated, new items.
The only gently-used items the shoppe collects and gives to these moms are coats. AND THAT is where we will be helping this year. When Julia reached out to ask if I'd host another drive (last year you all helped me to donate $25 gift cards) - I asked her for any specific needs, and this was her response: Gift cards are FANTASTIC, best distributed in denominations of $25. If you were to pick something, I would ask for children's coats. I cannot seem to ever get enough of them, and for some reason donation drives for them seem to fall short..."
So here is my ask: beginning today, and until Thanksgiving, we will be collecting IN GOOD CONDITION kids coats and $25 gift cards (groceries, gas, amazon, target, walmart, etc) -- before donating a used coat, please please please remind yourself of the situation these moms and their kiddos are in; if it's not a coat you'd be comfortable sending your own kid to school with, please consider dropping it in one of the blue or green boxes you see around town that recycle/reuse heavily soiled/worn clothing.
Thank you so much for your consideration in making a BIG difference this Christmas season. Don't hesitate to reach out with questions, or to extend the invitation to donate to other friends you may know.