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Donors, supporters sought to help victims of domestic violence
DECKED OUT — Hair-Plus in Norway has decorated its building with purple in support of Domestic Violence Awareness which happens throughout the month of October.
COUNTY — Safe Voices, a domestic violence resource center, has announced it is looking for help from donors to provide Thanksgiving dinners to families as part of its annual Feed a Family program.
According to Diane Gallagher, an Oxford County community educator for Safe Voices, the program is designed to help parents and children who have had to flee a dangerous situation at home or who have started over and need to make ends meet.
"[It's] for families who have somehow been affected by domestic violence at some point," Gallagher explained.
Donors are asked to purchase all the necessities for a traditional turkey dinner, including dessert, or a gift card to Hannaford or Walmart, then deliver it to any Safe Voices location in Oxford, Androscoggin and Franklin counties, says Gallagher.
Safe Voices will then provide the dinner to families in need, she says.
According to Gallagher, the families getting help are regular clients of Safe Voices. She said donors are given a list of what they might purchase for a family, which could just be a mother and their child or a family of seven.
"There's so much happening this month, especially in Oxford County," says Gallagher. "It's been a pretty exciting month."
October is domestic violence awareness month, she explained, and there are a number of additional ways people are showing their support, from candlelight vigils to presentations to Wear Purple Day on October 17. Safe Voices encourages everyone to join its Paint the County Purple Campaign by decorating their businesses, hospitals, homes, and even themselves purple for the month of October.
On Saturday, October 20, rain or shine, Safe Voices is sponsoring the Oxford County Walk to End Domestic Violence, which begins at 9 a.m. at Hosmer Field in Rumford.
Gallagher announced that on October 26, there is also an "Engaging Men Event" at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School that creates an opportunity for males to work as allies with females to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
The event will happen during the OHCHS football game vs. Cony High School, where players will show their support by wearing a purple sticker ribbon on their helmets, says Gallagher.
The Oxford County Domestic Violence Task Force will be at the game asking community members to sign a pledge to help end domestic violence, included in their game program. The game begins at 7 p.m.
"Experts agree that it is imperative to involve men and boys in these efforts," Gallagher states in a release. "In fact, in a recent national poll, 73 percent of American men said they think they can help reduce domestic violence and sexual assault."
Safe Voices is currently raising money for domestic violence awareness by selling purple lightbulbs for $3 – the idea is for people to show their support for domestic violence victims and survivors by placing a purple light on their porch, says Gallagher, and they can be purchased at www.safevoices.org or at any of the Safe Voices locations.
According to a Safe Voices e-newsletter, one in three women and one in nine men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.
"These people are your sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and friends," it reads.
"All too often victims of domestic abuse do not feel supported from the community; they feel they are alone in their struggle. So this October show your neighbors that you support the victims of domestic abuse and participate in our Paint the County Purple Campaign."
"The more the community recognizes that at some point they will or have already been affected by domestic violence, the more we will see that it's going to take a coordinated community effort to end domestic violence," says Gallagher.
In December, the annual Adopt a Family program, also sponsored by Safe Voices, provides Christmas gifts for families in need.
Similar to the Feed a Family program, donors receive a wish list of items their adopted family needs, purchase the gifts, then deliver them to Safe Voices.
From there, Safe Voices distributes the gifts to the families, says Gallagher.