One year I volunteered at a gift giving event in my community of Livermore, California. Previous years members of my church could take names from an Angel Tree and fulfill specific gift requests, there was no limit to how much could be given to an individual, if a child or adult had more than one item on their wish list you could select one or all, whatever you were able to provide. The request for gifts became so great that we were eventually asked to just donate any gift and it would be distributed to the community on a first-come-first-serve basis through an organized event taking place over a two day period. Community members already went through a paperwork process weeks prior to the event, then lined up and were allowed to select one gift per house member. Some people were unable to find an age appropriate gift for their family member, especially older kids and men. After seeing this need I spent the entire next year purchasing gifts to donate the following Christmas. It started with getting quality gifts on sale after the holiday. I always looked for bargains when I went shopping but it had to be a quality item, not something no one else wanted. I had coupons from department stores and an eye for finding a missed markdown. In February I came across a high shelf in the corner of a CVS store and everything was 90% off. I had to climb on a stack of beer and another customer got me a broom to reach some rocking horses, marked down to $2.99. After Valentine's Day I got large stuffed animals for $1.99. In March there were darling little girl outfits marked down to $4.97. In April I was able to get incredible deals at Macy's for quality young women and men's warm clothing. In May I found customer returns of winter coats in perfect condition, for less than $3 at Macy's. My bedroom looked like I was a hoarder as the months passes. But every time I went to Macy's, Target or Toys R Us I would find a great bargain. When the community giving event took place I waited until the second day the gifts were distributed to take my full van of gifts to help ensure those who were far from the first to choose had a selection of quality gift. My children and I enjoyed the spirit of giving all year as we built up our stockpile of gifts just waiting to be given away to someone we did not know, but enjoyed the thought it would help make their season magical and take some stress off the parents that many people experience when trying to provide for their loved ones.
Review from #MyGivingStory
I had the opportunity to work with Tri Valley Haven in a time of need when I was 20 years old. I was in a very abusive relationship whereas I did not know how to get out of and kept coming back to my abuser. I finally built up enough strength to leave him after the last abusive outburst he caused to me which left me with a black eye, broken clothing and shoes, bruises among other physical abuse and lastly a confused broken heart.
I found Tri Valley Haven through my father whom searched for domestic violence shelters to help me with court, housing, a safe place to talk and get guidance. It was the Shelter that helped me. Rae Raeann (although no longer there) let me stay for awhile in their shelter, gave me hope I was not alone, helped me follow thru with a restraining order for myself and also learn about the cycle of abuse. Without this organization I may of been killed, lost, abused, on drugs and suffering in life. I BECAME FREE, I AM LIVING, I AM RAISING MY SON (now have 2 more children) free from abuse. This shelter saved me and my son and it is my turn to give back which is why I spend my time helping collect donations from my community for this shelter and the families in need. Thank you for helping me be free, thank you for helping me find myself, thank you for turning me into an independent woman that protects her children as my father did for me by finding you. Christina Kuper
Like Christine before me, I've worked at Tri-Valley Haven over 13 years - since 2001. While here, I've been in a huge number of roles, from training volunteers, to educating in local schools about safe dating, to teaching women's self-defense, to running our website, to doing therapeutic art in our shelters. The Tri-Valley Haven allows so many experiences because we do SO MUCH in our community. We shelter survivors, we provide support and counseling, we work on restraining orders for those who need them, we form alliances with local law enforcement to be sure survivors are well treated at all stages of the process, we provide food at our pantry, we help to educate our community's youth to form safer relationships all around. I am so proud to be part of the heritage of Tri-Valley Haven, which has been a bulwark of safety and advocacy since 1977.