More and more shelters are finding themselves refuge and ‘home’ to women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. These families are carefully holding on to everything they can as they try to transition to new lives. To help make the transition easier, here are ten things to donate to your local shelter that could make a difference.
When a good friend of revealed that she had been a victim of abuse in her first marriage and that she’d turned to a domestic abuse shelter to give her children and her refuge, I was in awe of her strength. As she told me about ‘shelter living,’ I listened, thinking about how things could have been different if shelters were better equipped for mothers with children.
Domestic abuse shelters, particularly, are in need of things we don’t often think of when we think of ‘donating,’ so here are ten things you can donate to your local shelter to make a big difference.
1. Ladies’ Undergarments
Can you picture a life where bras and clean panties are luxuries? That’s what many women who are in domestic violence shelters say is the one thing they feel they can’t have enough of clean undergarments in good shape. Of course, shelters ask for new panties, but many accept lightly used bras and socks.
2. Feminine Hygiene Products
Again, can you imagine figuring out how you are going to take your next sane breath with your children by your side and you have nothing to care for yourself? No pads, tampons, cups — nothing. Next time you’re at the store picking some up for yourself, grab an extra box for your fellow mama sister who is less fortunate.
3. Purses/Diaper Bags
Women are often leaving their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and the last thing they are going to remember is a few purses/bags. The reality is, though, that bags not only help develop self-esteem for women but are a necessity in many situations. Potential employers don’t often look too fondly on interviewees who are carrying their things around in plastic bags.
4. Cell phones
A lot of us turn our old phones in as we upgrade, but a lot of us end up hanging on to them, only to throw them in a junk drawer until the next cleanout. Donate those phones! Shelters can often find inexpensive plans to activate them so they can let women have contacts when going out job hunting or simply looking to transition out of the shelters. In this day and age, a cell phone is such a big help to a mama with nothing.
5. Baby/Children’s Toys
Again, when mothers leave with little but their children and themselves, the lives of the children are turned upside down. When purging through your child’s toy selection, think of looking for a domestic violence shelter that may be in need. Having anything close to ‘normal’ for mothers in shelters means the world to them, and to their children.
On that same note, we know how expensive diapers and wipes are, and how often our children go through them. It’s no different for the mothers in shelters, except their resources are limited or nonexistent. Diapers/wipes/baby toiletries are always in high demand.
7. Gift Cards
Gift cards to an assortment of places help women and children in shelters so much. Even though they are in shelters, life still goes on. Children still have doctor’s appointments, school requirements after-school activities while mothers still want to work and transition into their new lives. Gas cards, public transportation cards, gift cards to grocery stores and local eateries can make the very hard situation they are in have a little more breathing room for them.
8. Cosmetic/Body Products
Mothers and women in shelters are still women — they love a hot shower with some great smelling shampoo and soap as much as the next mama does, so cosmetic and body products that let them have some very-much-needed self-care are valued. Little things like nail polish on toes and some mascara can make a big difference to a woman who has not felt very good about herself, and can be a big boost to her confidence as well.
9. Laundry Detergent
Seems simple, doesn’t it? Think of what laundry is like in your house — then imagine what it might be like in a shelter of families whose lives have been displaced? Clean clothes are not a luxury, but when supplies to keep them so are, it’s hard. Laundry detergent, dryer balls, softener, stain removers — all of the things in your laundry room are the things that shelters are constantly consuming.
10. Healthy foods
While it’s true that often shelters work in conjunction with food pantries/banks, that’s not always the case. And though people may donate foods for those banks/pantries, the food donated is not always the most nutrient dense. Women and children need healthy, clean foods donated, and because those tend to be higher dollar items at the grocery stores (sigh), they are not in great supply. If you’re thinking of donating some groceries (and they’ll be welcome!) consider fresh fruits/vegetables/nutrient dense foods.
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