No organization on the Shore does more to help victims of domestic violence than Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence. But they need help too. The following article is by Melanie Parker of the group ESVA Freedom Starters. This group works to collect needed hygiene items for folks seeking refuge in our local domestic violence shelter.

Freedom Starter Kits for our local domestic violence shelter (Photo courtesy ESVA Freedom Starters)

In 2014, I was experiencing my regular ‘bah-humbug’ feelings about the holidays. I didn’t want to be part of the big consumer Christmas. I wanted my holiday efforts to be meaningful. I started making Freedom Starter Kits for our local domestic violence shelter – Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Each contained shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb and feminine hygiene products. I started with four. By the time I delivered them, there were over a hundred complete kits and car loads of other necessary supplies for the daily operations of the shelter. I couldn’t have been prouder of our community for jumping on board and pitching it to create this Christmas miracle.

With the starter kits, we pretty much had the shelter stocked up on hygiene items to last for quite some time. When the holiday season rolled around the next year, I asked what we could do to help. That’s when we started the Christmas Cheer Drive. They provide the wish lists of domestic violence and sexual assault victims in their care and we all pull together to help make this the best holiday season ever to what has probably been the worst year of their life.

We call ourselves the Freedom Starters, after that first year of the Freedom Starter Kits. I have a trusted sidekick, Leesa Kelly, who helps me with key decisions, a wonderful group of supporting ladies that coordinate donations – Mandi Mears, Brandy Stokes and Audrey Cottle Gardner – and most importantly I have all of you guys. Good people of the Eastern Shore, (all of you from heres, been heres and come heres), who make the magic happen.

I have created this page because it is hard to keep in touch from one year to the next. In the past, we’ve used Facebook events to update everyone involved, but they only last for two weeks and they are not connected from year to year.

The page will be pretty quiet from January to mid-November, but you’ll be glad you are following us once Thanksgiving comes around. It is an exciting few weeks full of nothing short of Christmas miracles.