It took two large donations from members of the same family, but the Grunion Gift Card Drive to benefit victims of domestic violence topped the $20,000 mark this week.
This is the 16th year for the drive, which helps WomenShelter of Long Beach. WomenShelter distributes many of the cards to clients escaping domestic violence situations to help them have a bit of Christmas cheer. The rest are used throughout the year to help families set up new homes, children to prepare for school and more.
Donations will continue to be accepted as part of the drive through Friday, Dec. 20. At editorial deadline Tuesday, the total collected was $20,525.
"Every year, I'm just pleased and gratified by the generosity of our readers," Grunion Publisher Simon Grieve said. "Of course we encourage people to donate all year long — the need doesn't stop — but there's something special about making Christmas a little better for those women and children who have been traumatized by domestic violence."
Grieve also thanked the Grunion's longtime partners in the drive, the Aquarium of the Pacific and the restaurant Sevilla. The aquarium provided tickets as incentives, and a drawing done at the drive's completion features gift certificates to Sevilla.
The gift card drive means more than monetary help, according to Kristi Fischer, president of the WomenShelter board.
"What makes the Grunion Gazette fundraiser so special is that so many people have come to know the WomenShelter of Long Beach through an introduction by the Grunion’s gift card drive," she said. "In other words, we may never have known some of our wonderful friends, if not for the Grunion."
It also makes WomenShelter's clients — the victims — aware that people care, executive director Mary Ellen Mitchell said.
"The Grunion Gazette is our community newspaper," she said. "Through the Gift Card Drive each year, the community comes together to show their love and support for WomenShelter of Long Beach and this means a great deal to us… We tell our clients and our staff about the drive and it makes them feel very special and loved. These contributions have a direct impact on the lives of many people and we thank the Gazette and the entire community for that."
Two of the largest donations were made late last week online at www.womenshelterlb.org/grunion/. And so far, the largest donation of the drive has been the $3,000 donated by the Grand Prix of Long Beach Foundation.
Most of the more than $20,000 came in the form of $25 or $50 gift cards dropped by or mailed to the Grunion office.
"I think that's what makes the drive special," Grieve said. "It really shows the heart of so many people in our community. It is a good Christmas feeling. Thank you to each and every one."
The final tally will be reported next week. The drawing winners will be notified then, as well.