Donate toys and other gift items to help the Domestic Violence Intervention Program brighten the holiday season for kids

Lauren Shotwell/Little Village

All year round the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) provides support and advocacy services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, and each year at this time, it also helps brighten the season for children with its Holiday Store.

“The holidays can be a stressful time for families experiencing trauma and upheaval,” Alta Medea-Peters, DVIP’s director of Community Engagement, said in a statement. “Our Holiday Store ensures no family is left out of the magic of the season.”

From now through Dec. 23, DVIP is accepting donations of toys and other gifts for the Holiday Store. The parents the nonprofit is assisting then browse the store and choose gifts for their kids at no cost.

“The Holiday Store allows families to participate in the entire gift-giving experience,” Media-Peters said. “Parents have the joy of selecting items for their children, and the kids have the surprise of receiving gifts during the holidays.”

Unwrapped gifts can be deposited in toy collection barrels at the following locations.

Iowa City

First Presbyterian Church (2701 Rochester Ave)

The Knit Hole (in the Wells Fargo Building on the Ped Mall)

Lepic-Kroeger Realtors (2346 Mormon Trek Blvd)

Zen Salon & Spa (4 S Linn St)


Applebee’s (200 12th Ave)

Iowa Gym-Nest (2550 Holiday Rd)

Scheels (Coral Ridge Mall)

North Liberty

Bluebird Cafe (650 W Cherry St)

Red’s Alehouse (405 N Dubuque St)

All the donation barrels will have lists of gift suggestions attached, for anyone wanting to give but uncertain what kids might like.

DVIP grew out of an initiative launched by the University of Iowa’s Women’s Resource and Action Center in the late 1970s. It opened its first shelter for people threatened by domestic violence in 1980, DVIP now covers eight counties in southeastern Iowa — Johnson, Iowa, Cedar, Des Moines, Henry, Lee, Van Buren and Washington — and its Holiday Store has been an annual tradition for four decades.

Like similar nonprofits, DVIP has seen a great increase in the number of people it provides services for since the beginning of the pandemic. Between July 2020 and July 2021, DVIP provided services for 2,189 individuals. In addition to its 24-hour emergency shelter — which is more important now than ever, since there are only eight domestic violence shelters left in Iowa — the nonprofit also has a 24/7 hotline, and provides safety planning, trauma-informed one-on-one counseling and mobile advocacy.

Information on how to donate to DVIP, including donating time as a volunteer, is available on its site.

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