The Flagler County Sexual Assault Taskforce came together to provide Christmas toys to 96 families and more than 300 children.
This invitation-only holiday store was open to parents of abuse victims and at-risk children. Parents selected from a room full of donated items.
“It gives you such a good feeling when you help someone out and they’re crying because you’ve made their Christmas,” said Angie Hatfield, Sexual Assault Taskforce member.
Toy donations were made for children up to age 18, but there is a need for gifts for older children. Teen tables did not have as many choices as the younger children’s tables.
“People don’t realize that a lot of these families have teens,” said Shani Clement, a child psychologist who has been involved in the store for the past four years.
In addition to new toys and gently used clothing, 300 pounds of food were donated from a local Girl Scout troop.
To donate to the cause, call Angie Hatfield, of the Bunnell Police Department, at 206-4617.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HITS HOLIDAYS HARD
The holidays are supposed to be full of family and celebration.
But Cheryl Fuller, CEO of the Domestic Abuse Council, said the natural stress of the holiday season is anything but joyful for some families. She said the financial undertakings and the party atmosphere contribute to an increase in domestic violence.
Fuller said that more than 50% of the people in the batterers program admit to having a drug or alcohol problem.
She said law enforcement in Volusia County responds to 450 domestic violence calls per month, but estimates that only one in 10 victims reports.
“I’ve heard victims say, ‘I don’t think I can remember one holiday that was good,’” Fuller said. “They’re usually ruined by trees being thrown around, presents being smashed.”
— Andrew O’Brien; Brian McMillan contributed to this report.