An Arkansas City retail store is working to collect donations for Cowley County Safe Homes.
Factory Connection, 2135 N. Summit St., has become a drop-off point for donations that ultimately will help Safe Homes in Winfield to continue offering necessities to its clientele.
“I never have a deadline for donations. I’m always glad to accept help from the community,” said Raven Birmingham, manager of the store.
“I started this last year. I wanted everyone to know that my store was community based and that we support our locals.”
Birmingham has a very personal reason for wanting to help Safe Homes, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence to leave violent situations.
“I grew up struggling. We didn’t even have hot water in the summer. So I try my best to help anyone going through a hard time,” she said.
Some of the items Birmingham said the organization needs are soaps, including hand soap, dish soap, body soap and laundry detergent.
“I try to stock them up on toothbrushes, but I’m sure they could always use deodorants, as well,” she added.
Factory Connection is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Donations are welcome during those hours.
Some of the women and children who use Safe Homes literally start their lives over from scratch in the process of leaving an unhealthy situation.
The items that are given to Safe Homes are used to help them to start that process.
While she did not provide the particulars of her upbringing, Birmingham said her childhood was not privileged.
“We didn’t have a car. The churches would drop off clothing and food on our doorstep. My mother did her best with what she had,” she said.
It was those hard times that made her who she has become, according to Birmingham.
“I know what it’s like to struggle. If I can help, I should. And I want it to be easy for people to help if they want to,” she said.
There are alternative ways to donate to Safe Homes. Anyone unable to drop off donations can arrange a pickup by Safe Homes by calling (620) 221-7079.
“We have an ongoing need for medium- to large-sized plastic totes/tubs with lids,” the Safe Homes website states.
Other items accepted by the organization include:
- baby wipes;
- board games;
- can openers;
- cleaning supplies;
- cookie sheets;
- cooking utensils, such as spoons and spatulas;
- diapers — mostly sizes 4, 5 and 6;
- feminine products;
- glass cups;
- laundry detergent;
- paper towels;
- plastic cups;
- plastic pillowcase covers;
- pots and pans;
- toilet paper;
- towels and washcloths;
Safe Homes does not require a report to be filed in connection with any physical or emotional abuse — it primarily helps victims to express the situation in a comfortable way. It also provides physical shelters if a woman feels like she needs to flee the situation she is in.
Women with children are given preference for bed space if space is tight at the shelter, but up to 15 spots are available.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, the crisis hotline for Safe Homes is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be contacted at (620) 221-4357.