Blanket donation honors Martin Luther King Jr.; helps region’s domestic violence and sexual assault victims

Published 8:59 am Monday, January 16, 2023

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In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Court Queenship of Mary #2776 along with Sabine Federal Credit Union turned Friday the 13th into a good luck day by donating blankets to the Women’s and Children’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter in Beaumont.

“We were able to collect over 160 blankets through our staff and our members and community to provide to those that are in need,” said Derek McWilliams, Vice President of Marketing Sabine FCU.

Debra Johnson, Regent of Court Queenship of Mary #2776 says they are also donating three dozen pink blankets to the shelter.

“We decided Dr. King’s birthday would be a phenomenal time to be of service. We wanted to turn Friday, January the 13 into a lucky day to bring warmth through our blanket drive to women and children in need,” Johnson says.

Johnson says the Catholic Daughters goal is to care for people across the Golden Triangle.

“Most forget that Jesus was also homeless as he went about preaching the Gospel and depended on the generosity of others,” Johnson said. “There is no group more vulnerable in our society than women and children. We wanted to show them love and provide some warmth this winter.”

The vulnerable women and children often come to the shelter with very little, if any, personal belongings.

“When women are escaping violence with their children, they don’t bring their binky or their blanky, they bring maybe a handful of things and run out the door,” says Bonnie Spotts, Community Relations Director, Family Services of Southeast Texas.

Spotts says sometimes the things many take for granted are things that other people do not have.

“You think a blanket? I have a closet full of blankets at home, but they don’t have a blanket they don’t have anything except what is provided, which is the blanket on the bed, so it means a lot of to them,” Spotts says. “It’s one of their favorite things actually I don’t know how these ladies guessed it, but it is.”

Spotts says just a simple blanket provides a sense of warmth and comfort.

“The kids it becomes their security blanky and they will just drag that around and sleep with it, so it really means a lot,” Spotts says.

Since 1985, Family Services, a nonprofit, has provided shelter services to survivors of domestic violence for Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, Jasper, Newton and Tyler counties.

“Our services include: safehouse residential shelter, counseling, case management, therapy, legal advocacy, children and youth advocacy, age-appropriate activities, therapeutic and non-therapeutic groups, transportation, life skills classes, assistance in job placement and obtaining affordable housing,” says Spotts.

Domestic violence survivors are housed in individual apartments on the agency’s campus and basic needs such as food and clothing are provided.

“The agency provides all apartment necessities, such as furniture, bedding (sheets, blankets, comforters), towels, pots and pans, microwaves, food and toiletries,” Spotts says. “Although it is intended that these items be retained by the agency and reused by clients, many items regularly ‘go missing; and have to be replaced. Replacement is costly and the agency is very grateful when the community donates these necessities.”

For survivors who have a safe place to live, Family Services also offers a Non-Residential program that provides all the same services except for living in the shelter.

All services are confidential and free of charge.

Services through Family Services Counseling Center are based on a sliding fee scale, so they are accessible and affordable to everyone.

For more information contact them at 409-833-2668 or call their 24-hour domestic violence and sexual assault hotline at 409-832-7575.

— Written by Chrissie Mouton