Gift Cards (copy)

The gift cards are piling up for WomenShelter.

Time flies when you're trying to raise money and have a deadline.

It's now just a weekend away from the end of the 17th annual Grunion Gazette Christmas Gift Card Drive to benefit victims of domestic violence being served by WomenShelter of Long Beach. We'll tally the donations and announce the winners of the prize drawing on Monday, Dec. 14.

"We've really come to count on the gift cards and donations to help bring Christmas cheer to our clients each year," said Mary Ellen Mitchell, WomenShelter executive director. "We need help all year long, but that little glimmer of hope in a victim's eye when they receive a gift card has great impact this time of year."

In the last fiscal year alone, WomenShelter provided counseling and other services to more than 1,150 people. The emergency shelters counted 2,950 bed-nights in the same period for domestic violence victims and their children.

That's just the beginning of WomenShelter's efforts. There are education outreaches, staffing a 24-hour crisis hotline, legal aid and more. It's all been in Long Beach since 1977.

Which is why for the last 16 years the Grunion Gazette has asked readers to open their hearts and donate. Last year alone, readers provided more than $20,000 in support with gift cards and cash donations; it's estimated that more than $250,000 has been raised since the effort began.

"It never ceases to amaze me how our community comes together when they hear of a need in our town," said Grunion Publisher Simon Grieve. "2020 has been an immensely challenging year for us all and yet the generosity of our readers has, once again been truly inspiring."

By the end of business Tuesday, donations were close to $15,000. The target of $20,000 is attainable, Grieve said. And anyone who donates by Monday will be entered to win one of the $25 gift cards to Sevilla restaurant.

It's easy to donate. Gift cards of any type are gratefully accepted; cards to the big stores like WalMart and Target are valued because they are the most versatile.

Cash and checks are welcome as well. Checks should be made out to WomenShelter of Long Beach.

Cards and checks can be mailed to Gazette Newspapers Gift Card Drive, Attn. Harry Saltzgaver, 5225 E. Second St., Long Beach, 90803. They also can be dropped off at the Gazette office by putting them through the mail slot. People should include a self-addressed envelope if they're hoping for aquarium tickets, and everyone should provide contact information to be part of the drawing.

Donations can be made online as well, at Gazettes.com/give.

The need is great. Your generosity is appreciated.

Thanks, from everyone at the Grunion.

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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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