Women and children staying at Iris Kirby House spent their snow day Friday wrapped in the warmth and generousity of Telegram readers.
On Jan. 7, The Telegram launched its Warm Hearts campaign for Iris Kirby House, collecting items of winter comfort for women and children, victims of domestic violence. Since then, local residents have been dropping off their donations of new pyjamas, blankets, undergarments, hats, scarves, mittens and other items.
On Wednesday, we dropped off our first load of donations to Iris Kirby House.
"The first drop-off, of just one week's donations, was absolutely amazing," said Gail Tobin, executive director of the shelter. "Those of you who have showed your support to this campaign are playing a role in the healing process of an abused woman and her children. (Tonight) is movie night at the shelter and it will be an extra special night as (the residents) will not only watch movies and drink hot chocolate, but also be engaged in discussions with staff about the supportive community that cares about them and their well-being as they move forward to a life free of abuse."
Along with the items requested as part of the Warm Hearts campaign, Telegram readers also donated personal care products like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo and other items - also things the shelter needs and is grateful to receive, Tobin said.
Other donors included anonymous notes for the women who will be receiving the items.
"Thank you. You have the courage and strength to go forward with dignity," read one card, signed, "Keep strong, XO."
Though small, these are all things that mean a lot to the shelter's residents.
"I am not surprised at how our community has embraced the campaign by showing so much support so quickly, with no question, but amazed at the impact it is having on the women and children Iris Kirby House serves," said Glenn Furlong, member of the shelter's board of directors. "The campaign has and will continue to warm many hearts, to show the women and children their community supports them. I would like to express our deepest gratitude and thanks to all who have donated and assisted in any way to the campaign."
Sobeys on Merrrymeeting Road in St. John's has come on board as a supporter of the Warm Hearts campaign, and is launching its own collection of items. Drop-off boxes will be located in the store, and Warm Hearts' official patron, actress Lynda Boyd of "Republic of Doyle," will accept donations and host a meet and greet in the supermarket on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 1-3 p.m.
"I'll be there to welcome you and to personally thank you on behalf of Warm Hearts and The Telegram," Boyd said.
"I want to say a huge thank you to all the folks who have already donated to the campaign. The response has been amazing. The people of St. John's know what a little kindness can do for the soul. Keep those comfort items coming."
The Telegram is continuing to accept donations for Warm Hearts at its offices, located upstairs in the Village mall.
Items we're accepting (new only, please) are: pyjamas, housecoats, blankets, socks, slippers, underwear, hats, scarves, mittens and gloves in a range of sizes to fit women and children, as well as personal care items and gift certificates to local coffee shops, all of which can be used to provide comfort to residents of Iris Kirby House as well as O'Shaughnessy House, its sister facility in Carbonear. Monetary donations can be made by calling 722-8272.
Iris Kirby House is a 22-bed shelter where women and children fleeing abusive relationships can stay until they get back on their feet. More than just a home, the shelter provides a network to help them transition, if they choose, into a new life. February is typically the facility's busiest month, when it runs at full capacity.
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