Story by: Beth Fitzpatrick

Bridgeport, Ct.–The holiday season can be especially challenging for anyone coping with the trauma of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse. This is especially true for residents living in The Center for Family Justice’s 15-bed transitional safe house, Kathie’s Place.

While these individuals and families receive safe, free and comfortable shelter as they work to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of domestic violence, the holidays can pose many emotional and financial challenges, particularly for victims with young children.  This has been especially true as CFJ’s clients also cope with challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year, CFJ’s safe house is at capacity at the holiday’s approach. Its team is also responding to an increase in reporting of domestic violence statewide which has been attributed to the impact of the pandemic and extended periods of time victims were forced to shelter in place with their abusers. Calls to domestic violence hotlines in Connecticut have increased by more than 56 percent since March.

“It is often difficult for our clients to fulfill the holiday wishes of their children as they too often lack the resources to do so,” explains Debra A. Greenwood, President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “This year, it’s even more challenging as so many of our clients are also coping with job loss, food and housing insecurity and the challenges of supporting their families during this stressful pandemic.”

For the past several years, CFJ has held Adopt-a-Family program to help meet the most immediate needs of its clients during the holiday season. “Year after year, it has been inspiring and so meaningful to witness the generosity of so many people who help to make the season special and meaningful for our clients and their children,” said Greenwood. “It is a true reflection of the best of the holiday spirit and even more special this year as we know so many people are facing their own personal hardships.”

CFJ is currently looking for individuals, families and businesses willing to contribute or help with the following:

  • Adopting a client family. CFJ is seeking a small number of individuals or businesses interested in adopting community and safe house clients and their children in need of holiday cheer. These individuals will fulfill the gift wish lists of some of our clients.
  • Gift cards from stores Wal-Mart, Target, Stop & Shop, CVS and Walgreens. Gift cards allow CFJ’s clients to make personal decisions about things they need most. Cards in small denominations ($25 or less) are preferred.
  • New toys. Please consider donating items which have broad appeal to children of all ages and genders such as board games, art kits, Lego, block sets, action figures, car and truck sets and dolls in a variety of skin tones.
  • New apparel, with tags still attached that is suitable for young children and toddlers. Preferred items include new socks, hats, mittens, scarves, earmuffs, underwear, sweatshirts and sweatpants. Useful baby items include diapers and pull ups of all sizes (especially sizes 4, 5 and 6), formula, baby food, diaper rash ointment, baby powder, wipes, Q-tips, blankets and crib sheets.
  • Many of the women living in our safe house enjoy receiving new yoga-type pants and cozy, long-sleeve t-shirts or sweatshirts.
  • Personal care items including full or super-size shampoos, conditioners, lotions, body washes and feminine hygiene products.
  •  Non-perishable food times including: Coffee, tea, cocoa, hot and cold cereals, soup, rice, beans, pasta, pasta sauce, Hamburger Helper, juice, canned veggies, tuna and meals, peanut butter and jelly.
  • Snacks items such as bagged popcorn, nuts, applesauce, granola bars, water bottles, boxed milk and juices as well as other snacks with a long shelf life are greatly appreciated.

Due to capacity issues, CFJ is unable to accept used items and respectfully asks that all toys and household items be unopened and in their original packaging and that new clothing is delivered with tags still attached.

Please contact CFJ’s Community Relations Coordinator, Beth Fitzpatrick, at BFitzpatrick@CenterforFamilyJustice.org if you are interested learning more about CFJ’s Adopt-A-Family Program or making a wish list donation.

The deadline for volunteering to adopt a family is Dec. 1.

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