By Toni Stauffer
Christmas can be the most difficult time for abuse and assault survivors, especially for their children. Incidents of violence significantly increase during the holidays. Victims often only have the clothes on their backs, and celebrating Christmas becomes a financial and emotional impossibility; however, the Crisis Center of Russell County (CCRC), formerly the Battered Women’s Shelter, is asking for the community’s help to demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas to families in need.
The CCRC provides emergency housing to victims of domestic violence and their children, as well as offering a 24-hour hotline and advocates for victims during medical and legal proceedings. The Center operates through grants and donations. This year, the Mary Kay Foundation issued $3 million in grants to 150 domestic violence shelters across the country. CCRC received a $20,000 unrestricted grant. Other significant donations were received by the TJX Foundation, Publix, and Aflac.
Every Christmas season, sponsors are needed to help make Christmas happen for these families. The number of families housed in the shelter varies, but that number always spikes around Christmas.
The Center has set a goal for at least 15 sponsors with each sponsor sponsoring one family in need. Individual sponsorships are also available. Shelter residents are given a sheet for their Christmas wish list, and the lists are given to the assigned sponsors for fulfillment. The recipients do not know who their sponsors are and the sponsors do not know the recipients, so it’s a secret Santa.
“We really, really, really want the kids to have a good Christmas,” said Janie Potts, CCRC Community Educator. She said most of the moms just want the kids to have a good Christmas, and some want nothing for themselves. The staff try to make sure the moms also have a nice Christmas. She said they have had children ask for items like Bibles, or even sheets and blankets, because they get cold at night.
“We helped spoil them a little bit,” said Potts. “They were very humble, and it was just very touching.”
For more information on how to become a family or individual sponsor, contact the CCRC at 334-298-4435.