Donate gift items to brighten the holidays for survivors of domestic violence

From now until Dec. 24, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program is accepting donations of toys and other gifts for its annual holiday store. — photo by Lauren Shotwell

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) provides support and advocacy services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, and this time each year, it also helps its clients provide holiday cheer for their children.

From now until Christmas Eve, DVIP is accepting donations of toys and other gifts for its annual Holiday Store. “Our holiday store is one way in which we can provide a free and confidential way for families to shop and make the holidays a special time for the entire family,” DVIP explains on its website.

DVIP grew out of an initiative launched by the University of Iowa’s Women’s Resource and Action Center in the late 1970’s. 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.

Unwrapped gifts can be donated through Christmas Eve at Little Village’s office in Iowa City, 623 Dubuque St. The office is opened Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are also being accepted at two other Iowa City locations, the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce (325 E Washington St, Iowa City) and Ragstock (207 E Washington St,), and at the Bluebird Cafe in North Liberty (650 W Cherry St #9).

Donated items should be new, and DVIP has the following suggestions:

Lego sets, Play kitchen sets, Play doctor sets, Remote control cars, Babydolls, Superhero action figures, Art & craft kits, Train sets, Board games – all ages – Uno, Life, Sorry, Battleship, Operation, Yahtzee, etc., Musical toys, Teething toys, Wal-Mart gift cards, Movie theater gift certificates, DVD’s rated G to PG-13, Dress up & costumes, Play-doh, Toy animals, Dinosaurs, Blind bags – LOL Dolls, Hatchimals, Mixels, Hot Wheels cars & tracks, Barbies, Soccer ball, Infant play mats, AA & AAA batteries, HyVee Gift Cards, Stacking blocks, Push toys, Footballs, Nerf Balls, Bikes, Skateboards, Scooters Sports equipment, Basketball, Science/Educational Kits

In the past year, DVIP has “served over 900 individuals in Johnson County and 1899 in all 8 counties of our service region. We have provided emergency shelter to over 300 individuals and served 140 children,” Alta Medea-Peters, director of community engagement for DVIP, said in an email.

Anyone interested in other ways to support DVIP can find opportunities to volunteer on its website.

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