Monday marked the beginning of national “Random Acts of Kindness Week” ; a time when everyday people engage in spontaneous random acts of kindness aimed at near-total/perfect strangers.
Sponsored by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, participants are asked to engage in as many Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) as they are comfortable with during the campaign’s one-week duration, either overtly or anonymously, in the hopes of precipitating other RAKs by other people in a cascading cavalcade of compassion, cooperation, consideration and good karma.
In the spirit of this week of kindness, and all random acts thereof, we at FVPC have come up with a list of possible RAK suggestions, which are not only within reach of the casual RAKer, but also keep in mind the victims of DV in Orange County.
RAK Idea #1: Donate a $20 grocery or gas card to FVPC for use by a victim and her family.
Transportation is a critical component of most safety plans for victims–not just because it provides a means of escape from dangerous situations, but because it empowers victims to make their own decisions about their own lives and destinies. Transportation provides victims with the means of controlling when and where they go out, and for how long, as well as providing them with the means of traveling to and from jobs and job interviews–not to mention the safety and peace of mind that comes from picking up and dropping off your kids yourself.
Groceries too, are of great help for victims attempting to create a safety plan for themselves, especially for victims who are wholly or partially reliant on their abusers, financially. In these situations, even if a victim wishes to leave an abusive situation, if he or she (for whatever reason) finds themselves with limited funds, and/or few employment opportunities with which to obtain greater funds, such realizations can dissuade some victims from taking action–especially if there are young children or other dependents involved.
Even something as simple as a full tank of gas and/or a bag of groceries in the back seat can have a powerful effect on a victim’s sense of empowerment, motivation, and commitment to taking action, and can mean the difference between moving forward to something better, or doing nothing for want of better options.
If you are interested in donating grocery or gas gift cards, they can be dropped off at the FVPC office on the corner of Rosemary and Henderson Streets in Chapel Hill. For more information, visit our website.
RAK Idea #2: Clean your closet and bring clothes to The Stock Exchange to consign for FVPC’s benefit.
The Stock Exchange is a clothing consignment store that allows consigners to donate a portion of the proceeds of their merchandise to the charity of their choice. People interested in donating to FVPC simply bring their consignment goods (in-season, late-market clothes that are undamaged and in good condition) to The Stock Exchange, and rather than enter in their own account number, indicate that FVPC should be the beneficiaries of their items’ sale. If goods do not sell, however, there is still the possibility that your donation can help assist the victims of domestic violence.
When customers consign with the Stock Exchange, any unsold items can either be returned to the owner, or kept by the Stock Exchange to be sold at lowered prices during a bi-annual charity bargain sale, of which a portion of the proceeds benefit FVPC.
RAK Idea #3: Donate non-perishable food stuffs like mac and cheese, pasta, sauce, biscuit mix, tuna, soup etc. to our food pantry.
FVPC operates a small on-site food pantry with canned and dried goods for use by victims seeking temporary assistance with day-to-day living considerations as they make the transition from their current situation, to a more fair, equitable and stable living arrangement. Often times, victims who are leaving abusive relationships struggle with some of the day-to-day expenses associated with newly-independent life. This can include struggles to both arrange living space, and essentials like food and utilities, and frequently access to reliable and nutritious food staples can go a long way towards helping victims re-establish themselves, stabilize their living arrangements, and begin reclaiming some of their lost independence.
To that end, FVPC will be accepting donations of canned goods, dried goods, pre-packaged foods and other non-perishables that do not require freezing or refrigeration. These items will be distributed to FVPC clients who need temporary assistance with arranging meals, particularly those who are transitioning from one housing or living situation to another.
RAK Idea #4: Donate an old or unused cell phone to help support victims of domestic violence
One of the most common patterns of emotional abuse and domestic violence, is limiting victims’ abilities to ask for help and reach the outside world. Often times, batterers will keep their victims isolated, refusing to let them drive, work outside the home, or in extreme cases, to even use the phone or go outside.
In these situations, and particularly when there is a danger of physical violence, simply having the means to call for help can be difficult if not life-saving, and just having access to a phone can be of great emotional and psychological comfort to victims, in addition to a practical safety consideration.
That’s why we at FVPC offer free “911 phones,” which have no plans attached, but can still be used for emergency communication like dialing 911. These cell phones allow victims one more element of control in their lives, and empower them to not only seek help, but also protect themselves should a situation become dangerous.
Members of the public interested in donating old or unused cell phones may do so at our office, or can call our hotline to find the FVPC collection box nearest to them. Wherenever possible, phones intended for use as 911 phones should be accompanied by the appropriate charging cable.
However, even damaged phones, or phones without charging cables, can still be donated to FVPC, and will be recycled for components by a local charity, who will then make a reciprocal donation to our office, proportional to the value of the phone and salvaged materials. These donations will then be used to help provide critical services to victims of domestic violence, including community education campaigns designed to help prevent violence from ever occurring.
To learn more about cell phone donations, go to our website at www.fvpcoc.org, or call our office at (919) 929-7122.
RAK Idea #5: Write a letter to your representatives, indicating your support for victims of domestic violence.
Recently, the President Obama signed into law the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), whose provisions are designed, at least in part, to help the victims of domestic violence, and their children.
While this is a fantastic start, and a big leap forward in the advancement of victims rights and woman’s issues, there is still more that can be done. Write to your Congressman or Senator today, indicating your support for the CAPTA and FVPSA acts, and to encourage them to support further measures aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence, and their families. If you feel comfortable, write about why these issues matter to you, and how you would like your government to respond to the reality of domestic violence in our community.
To learn more about domestic violence, and how agencies like FVPC serve and help victims, visit our website at www.fvpcoc.org.
To learn more about who your Congressmen and Senators are, and how to contact them, go to the US House of Representatives website here, and type in your state and ZIP code, or go to the US Senate website here, and type your state.