San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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March 8th, 2009
Program responds to domestic violence

STAFF REPORT

The Hays-Caldwell Woman’s Center (HCWC), in conjunction with Allstate brokers in San Marcos and Austin, have kicked off the “Handbags for Hope” program, now in its second year.

The Allstate Foundation, along with State Representative Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) and Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton recently announced the Austin phase of the campaign, which asks people to donate new or gently-used handbags at any local Allstate agent location.

The handbags will then be selected by children staying at the HCWC shelter as a Mother’s Day gift. Inside the bags will be the number for the toll-free Texas Advocacy Foundation’s (TAF) domestic violence hotline and a pamphlet detailing steps to develop a safety plan. Last year over 3,000 bags were collected for the program in Austin and Amarillo.

“We are in the business of providing safety, peace of mind and security,” said Heath Riddles, Executive Director of TAP. “This campaign will provide victims with a link to life-saving legal aid they might not otherwise be able to search for in their home environment.”

The HCWC has dealt with a steep rise in those staying at its shelter throughout the previous year. Total shelter days for 2008 were 6,317, a 22 percent increase from the 5,501 days in 2007. Hotline calls have seen an increase as well. Due to the current economic times, shelter officials believe these numbers are expected to continue to rise in Hays and Caldwell counties. One Austin-area domestic violence shelter reported a 240 percent rise in crisis walk-ins in 2008.

“The Allstate Foundation and Texas Advocacy Project are taking a stand against domestic violence,” said Janemarie Clark, Texas Manager for the Allstate Foundation. “This campaign is an extension of the Allstate good hands promise to help all members of society feel better protected today and better prepared for the future. Together, we are empowering survivors with the opportunity to obtain personal independence.”

Community members can donate handbags at any local-area Allstate agent office through March 11. A list of agent locations can be found here. If you, or anyone you know, is dealing with issues of domestic violence, call the TAP hotline at (800) 347-HOPE, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE. The national hotline can be used to locate local programs, emergency assistance funds, shelter, and utility and rent assistance.

The TAP is a statewide non-profit organization that provides free legal solutions to survivors and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. For more information visit its website.

The Allstate Foundation, established in 1952, is an independent charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries from the Allstate Corporation. The foundation partners with other non-profit organizations on community initiatives that promote “safe and vital communities”, “tolerance, inclusion and diversity”, and “economic empowerment.” Domestic violence and teen driving have been priorities of the foundation since 2005.

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