For many of us, the winter holidays are a time for family get-togethers and gift-giving. However, for some community members that are starting over due to domestic violence or sexual assault, the holidays can be complicated, to say the least.
That’s where our friends at InterAct step in. They’re a Wake County nonprofit that strives to rebuild lives and secure safer futures for domestic and sexual violence victims, survivors, and their families.
Every December the nonprofit undergoes a magical winter metamorphosis. The agency turns into a “store” where parents and their children can pick gifts and wrap them for family members. They also invite families to take fun, keepsake pictures in front of a festive backdrop.
As part of Lulu’s commitment to empowering marginalized voices, we held an InterAct toy drive. Participants donated new toys, with a focus on gifts for kids 10 to 12 years old, as well as gift wrapping supplies. We also volunteered at the InterAct facility to sort through the holiday goodies.
We arrived with our car full of donations and were warmly greeted by Laura Nelson, the Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator. She explained the task at hand—sort the donations by age group and type.
When we entered the room, we were awestruck by the volume of donations in a concentrated place. It was like the contents of a toy store had been shaken out and landed slightly haphazardly on a few tables and the surrounding floor. It was hard not to feel the giddiness of childhood rekindled.
Still, we had a mission so we got to work! Together, we sorted the toys by age from infants all the way to teens. We made sure the donations were laid out in a way that was accessible and inviting. Likewise, we stocked toys beneath the tables for volunteers to replenish the bounty. We wanted to be mindful of families that would arrive later in the day and ensure their experience was just as magical as early attendees.
Our hope is that in lending a helping hand, we can help community members focus on the next chapter of their lives. Sexual assault and domestic violence don’t have the be their whole story.
To find a shelter near you if in need of support, visit: https://www.domesticshelters.org/
For a free, confidential sexual assault support hotline, please see: https://www.rainn.org/get-help
Sheridan is Lulu’s Coordinator of Sustainability and Outreach. She is an author advocate, B Corp Champion, friend to all cats everywhere, and a clog aficionado.