“He emptied the bank account the day before I was going to shop. I had nothing for my kids for Christmas. You are all angels!”
These are words from a client, as FJC staff and volunteers loaded her car with Christmas gifts. Everything from toys and clothes for her three children; to home goods, toiletries, and gift cards for groceries and gasoline for mom. The tears welled in her eyes, as she thanked the FJC and drove off to the safe place where she and her children will spend the holidays, away from her abusive husband.
For many, the holidays are thought of, and looked forward to, as the best time of the year. For victims of domestic violence, however, the holidays can bring difficult expectations, financial pressure, and increased stress levels. For this time of year, celebration and joy can be replaced with fear and uncertainty.
Stories of emptied bank accounts, gifts stolen by abusers, and financial control are often shared by FJC clients during the holidays. Thanks to a dedicated group of donors, the Family Justice Center is able to help some of the most in-need clients each year, through our small-but-mighty adopt-a-family program. Clients are able to share wish lists with FJC Advocates, which are then anonymously shared with donors, who do the shopping.
And then come the deliveries. Boxes and bags filled with toys, clothing, diapers, toiletries, home goods, gift cards, and more: all for the FJC client families who need it most. The Family Justice Center offices downtown start to look less like offices each day, and more like Santa’s workshop.
In 2019, former FJC client Rebecca* called to adopt a family for Christmas. She and her children had been on the receiving end of the program in 2018, and she wanted to pay it forward.
“You saved us. You saved Christmas last year,” she said. “I don’t know what I would have done without getting this help last year. It would have been a very sad Christmas.”
Rebecca and her children shopped this year for a family similar to theirs: a mother and her children, temporarily living with a friend to stay safe from an abusive husband. With a twinkle in her eye, she delivered the gifts to the FJC, knowing that it would bring smiles and happiness to this family, the way it did to hers.
Our holiday adopt-a-family donors help our clients during a very emotional time, and a special time of year. The ice and snow of the season is no match to the warmth and generosity of these caring, thoughtful angels.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the Family Justice Center at (716) 558-SAFE (7233), or visit a service location to speak with a domestic violence advocate. With safety planning, access to legal support, a forensic medical unit, and a team of advocates who care; the Family Justice Center can help bring safety, hope, and healing to clients during the holidays, and the rest of the year as well.
*Name has been changed for anonymity.