Art therapy

Art therapy is a big part of counseling, specifically for youngsters, at WomenShelter.

Angels do exist.

Over the years, the Grunion Christmas Gift Card Drive has been visited by angels several times, donating $5,000, even $10,000 one year. It happened again this year, when a $5,000 check arrived the weekend before the drive ended on Monday, pushing the drive's total past $25,000.

It all goes to the victims of domestic violence and their families who have turned to WomenShelter of Long Beach for help. Gift cards will be used to bring a little Christmas joy into those lives, and also will help them start new lives all year long.

The generous donor could not be reached for comment. Over the years, most big donors have said knowing how much the gift is going to do for many domestic violence victims was enough.

He was far from the only generous donor though. There were a couple of $1,000 checks, and many checks and gift cards tallying $100, $200 and more.

"It's just amazing generosity," Simon Grieve, Grunion publisher, said. "Every year, I worry that circumstances will cause people to cut back. And every year, I'm wrong. In this challenging year in particular, the response from our readers is overwhelming."

WomenShelter has operated in Long Beach since 1977. They just opened a second emergency shelter this year, and operate a 24-hour hotline, counseling services for adults and children (including group therapy sessions), other help from health referrals to legal assistance.

This is the 17th year the Grunion has organized a Christmas Gift Card Drive for Womenshelter. For the last several years, $20,000 raised has been the unofficial goal. It's estimated that more than $250,000 has been raised over the years.

This year's total, as of close of business Monday, was $25,150. Every year, a few more donations come in online. And WomenShelter's need doesn't stop on Dec. 25 — they don't turn donations away.

Donations can still be made online at Gazettes.com/give.

There was a drawing from among all the donors for 10 $25 gift cards to the Sevilla restaurant. Winners will be contacted directly.

"This gift card drive is a highlight of the holiday season for us every year," WomenShelter executive director Mary Ellen Mitchell said. "This year, the response has been a shining light — a shining star, if you will. We can't thank you enough."

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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