Rae Galbraith, teacher at Blytheville Primary School, is with second-graders Mason McCanless and Tailyn Lowe after they donate items to The Haven. Galbraith is coordinator for the drive among the first grade students who are collecting the items as part of a community service project for the entire school.
By DAVID COOKE
Blytheville Schools PR Dir.
The first-graders of Blytheville Primary School are “adopting” The Haven of Northeast Arkansas. Primary School teachers and students sponsor a community project once per quarter that is hosted by students from different grade levels, and for the third quarter of the school year first-graders have chosen The Haven.
According to its website The Haven of Northeast Arkansas, Inc., is a non-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, supportive care and education to the victims of domestic abuse and their children so that they can live “abuse-free lives”.
Executive director Phyllis McClendon said The Haven served 60 individuals in 2019 with emergency housing, including 32 adults and 28 children. These individuals stayed at the shelter 1,244 nights, an average stay of 17 nights. Shelter was provided to those individuals from five states and two countries.
The age range for children was newborn to four years old; the adult age ranged from 19 to 66. Ten children were school aged and received educational services in the public schools, with the larger of them being in lower elementary.
Since 2015 two ladies had a child in the shelter. The overall age range for adult was 18 to 72 years.
The Haven provides specially trained personnel who are available 24 hours a day to help women and their children who need a safe place. At the “safe house” residents are provided with food, clothing, transportation and shelter and receive counseling. A child advocate is also available to help with the unique needs of the children who witness family violence.
To provide these services the Haven relies on help from the community. A constant need for basic health care and household items is always in demand. Families very often leave a dangerous situation without anything. Clothes, children’s toys and personal items are left behind. Representatives at The Haven appreciate any donations that will help the families lead as normal a life as possible.
As part of their community projects second grade students made placemats which were then given to Heritage Square Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. BPS teachers in the Special Education Department provided an abundance of food items for its Backpack Program, and toward the end of March the kindergartners will be gathering items for foster children.
“Each child at the Primary School received a letter for him or her to take home, and that letter was also published in the BPS newsletter, on its website and Facebook page that described what the entire group of students would be doing for other people,” said BPS program coordinator Paula Pitts. “By helping to collect the items that are so needed by The Haven, our children are getting a better idea of how important those efforts at assisting others really is.”
The Haven is a 12-bed facility that has a designated family room for ladies with children that can have a little more privacy for sleeping. Currently, The Haven has seven clients.
A “wishlist” of critical needs items was assembled by volunteers at the Haven, and each of the BPS first-graders received one that was used in collecting the items. The following are items the students can bring to the school on their own: Toilet tissue and paper towels, trash bags (8, 13 & 30-gallon), plastic zipper bags (quart and gallon size), hair brushes and combs, dryer sheets, ethnic hair products, washcloths and towels, plastic totes/storage, wipes, children and ladies underwear, socks, pajamas, T-shirts and sweatpants, spiral notebooks, twin bedding (all), underarm deodorant, kitchen, bathroom rugs and shower curtains, manila 1/3 cut folders and hanging file folders, 3-ring binders (all sizes), diapers (all sizes), radio alarm clocks, toys and board games and craft supplies/materials (adults and children).
Other items suggested by The Haven representatives should be delivered to the BPS offices by an adult: Dishwashing and LIQUID laundry detergent, kitchen and bathroom cleaner, “Pine Sol” and “Mr. Clean”, disinfectant and air freshener spray, shampoo/conditioner, Advil, Tylenol and Benadryl, heartburn and cold medicine (adult and child), batteries (AA and AAA), light bulbs (60 watt and 3-way), kitchen utensils, straightening irons, blow dryers, broom and mop, makeup and gas/food gift cards.
The Haven includes a staff of 10 that work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and all services are at no cost to the individual. The Haven partners with other agencies in the community to make sure all needs are met, whether they are financial, emotional, physical or medical.
Donations will be accepted at the Primary School through March 13.