WomenShelter cards 2018

WomenShelter executive director Mary Ellen Mitchell, left, and board chair Kristi Fischer, right, pose with Grunion Executive Editor Harry Saltzgaver. The Grunion Gift Card Drive for WomenShelter raised more than $18,000 in 2018.

Fifteen years, more than $320,000 raised to help victims of domestic violence in Long Beach.

Can't quit now, right?

For the 16th year, the Grunion Gazette is sponsoring a Christmas gift card drive to help clients of WomenShelter of Long Beach, the oldest agency of its kind in Long Beach. WomenShelter provides victims with emergency shelter, counseling, legal help, medical referrals and help starting a new life.

The gift cards donated by Grunion readers help improve that service in a number of ways, according to Mary Ellen Mitchell, WomenShelter's executive director. They help set up new households once a woman is ready to start over. They help provide a Christmas where there wouldn't be one otherwise. They help purchase necessities for school, clothes for the job interview, and more.

WomenShelter has been helping domestic violence victims and educating to stop the cycle of violence since 1977. There is an emergency shelter in an undisclosed location, a second shelter opened this fall and a resource center offers counseling and other help at 4201 Long Beach Blvd. near Bixby Knolls.

"Unfortunately, domestic violence is an everyday occurrence," Mitchell said. "On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking — making it a chronic social and public health issue in the U.S. WomenShelter is dedicated to putting an end to domestic violence and breaking the cycle of violence altogether."

In the 2018-19 fiscal year, WomenShelter's crisis hotline operators answered and helped 1,194 people. In the same year, direct contact client services totaled 27,806, including everything from counseling sessions to helping with court cases — all without charge to the victims helped.

"Too often the penalties of domestic violence remain on the shoulders of victims and their children," Mitchell said. "But through your continuous support we aim to eliminate domestic violence through compassionate intervention, education, and personal empowerment."

The Grunion Gift Card Drive is a unique way to support WomenShelter's efforts by making life — and the holidays — a little better for domestic violence victims. The newspaper relies on our readers to make the magic happen.

"I am continually amazed and gratified by the generosity of our readers," Simon Grieve, Grunion publisher, said. "This really is a great way to spread the holiday spirit of giving."

Here's how to help. Purchase some gift cards, drop them by our office at 5225 E. Second St., or mail them to that address, attention Gift Card Drive, c/o Harry Saltzgaver. The zip code is 90803.

To donate on line, go to www.womenshelterlb.org/grunion/.

Gift cards to Target, WalMart, Costco and the like are preferred because the cards can be used for everything from food to toys to clothes to kitchen appliances. No cards will be turned away, though.Don't have time to buy gift cards? Checks (made out to WomenShelter) or cash is gladly accepted, and the cards will be purchased for you.

In addition to the warm, fuzzy feeling you get by donating to a good cause, there are a couple of tangible incentives for you as well. The Aquarium of the Pacific is donating two tickets to donors who give $50 or more until the tickets run out, and everyone who donates will be entered into a drawing for 10 $50 gift certificates to Sevilla in downtown Long Beach.

Just be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you mail a donation and want aquarium tickets, and give us an email for the drawing.

For more information, call 562-433-2000.

And thanks.

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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