Senior Criminal Justice students are collecting items to benefit a local domestic violence shelter and resource agency. Each year, SafeNet serves about 2,000 individuals from the Erie community including women, men and children. The seniors will be collecting new or gently used towels, washcloths, sheets, blankets, dishes, cups, toiletries, nonperishable food items, DVDs and old cell phones (including broken ones).
“The victims often have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Many are leaving very dangerous situations and do not have the opportunity to go back and collect their belongings,” Kelly Peters, a Criminal Justice major helping organize the drive, said.
SafeNet provides shelter, counseling and advocacy, transitional housing, civil and legal representation, medical outreach, education and professional training to their clients. It is the only accredited domestic violence agency in the area currently.
“The donated items will directly benefit the individuals trying to rebuild their lives. In many cases it’s also families trying to start new. We figure, it’s the end of the year and a lot of students will be graduating and moving out. The items they may no longer need anymore could help someone who could really use it,” Peters said.
The drive will run from April 3-11. Boxes are placed around campus in places such as residence halls, the Student Union and the bookstore.
“Particularly, SafeNet asked for sets of things such as cups, dishes, sheets, towels, so it can feel more like a home for them,” Peters said.
Domestic violence is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain power or control over another partner.”
SafeNet states that “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners at some point in their lifetimes. One in three teenagers experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.”
Mercyhurst’s Criminal Justice program seeks to strengthen their ties with the Erie community, helping further the values of Mercy. This project also shows students how their contributions can go a long way in helping the community and its citizens. Other projects in the class include a food drive for Erie’s Climate Changers and youth programs with local community centers.