Temple Israel in Charlotte, NC
Project: DIGNITY was created to help women taking the first step to leave their abusive homes and bring about dignity.
When women leave their abuser and seek shelter, most have only the clothes they are wearing. They arrive at the shelter for safety. They are need of security, a roof over their heads, a warm meal, and basic needs. Our solution: duffel bags filled with items to begin their new life. We spoke to the two beneficiaries of our bags – Safe Alliance and The Salvation Army of Good Hope to find out what was most needed to fill these duffels. We also contacted our local Jewish Family Services and learned that they refer their clients to Safe Alliance.
We came up with the following items:
Feminine Hygiene Products
Soap & Body lotion
Shampoo & Conditioner
Cosmetics: lipstick, eyeshadow, face cream, nail polish, blush
Our goal: fill 300 duffel bags
Our beginning budget: $0.00.
In order to ask for duffels and the products (all of which needed to be new), we developed our “Ask Letter.” The letter was first sent to our members and to our congregation. Then, we used the letter to ask friends, neighbors and any contacts we may know to complete this project.
We started receiving seed money from a few generous donors of our Temple and community. It helped us purchase necessary articles to fulfill our first packing, which occurred during our Temple’s Volunteer Expo Day and Sukkot Food Truck Sunday. One of the terms that can be referred to Sukkot is temporary shelter, and we used that to highlight that a shelter is a temporary beginning for women starting their road onto a new life.
We took our “Ask Letter” to local owners and national stores to help us with purchasing big ticketed items. We received gift cards from a few to use in their stores and, from other companies such as BOMBAS, Cosmetics for a Cause, Cheap Totes, we got products. These donors came from the tireless efforts of our committee members researching the internet and writing to them, as well as continuous follow-ups.
We also received donations from supporters of Safe Alliance that we personally contacted.
We ran into a lack of storage space, but our committed committee volunteered to house the arrivals of boxes until our packing event. Our homes became warehouses for the wonderful donations! One anonymous donor supported over 3,000 travel-size products that their non-profit organization could not use. The arrival of products, such as 300 quality tee shirts, 250 pairs of BOMBA socks, 200 totes, and feminine products was like receiving Hanukkah gifts that you wanted!
We met for a dry run the week of the packing event. We decided on a U-Shape configuration for the volunteers to pack the duffel bags. We separated each of the items by size for packing. This way, each duffel bag had an XXX-L size shirt, leggings, and flip-flops, along with the cosmetics and toiletries, along with the other items to be packed.
Packing began at 9:30 AM and by 11:00 AM, 150 plus duffels were packed, labeled according to size, and ready for pick up! We will be packing the final 150 duffels in the Spring.
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