Raleigh group hopes to make holiday season brighter for families dealing with domestic violence

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The holiday season is around the corner, but for families dealing with domestic and sexual violence this time of year can be difficult.

One local nonprofit is trying to make the season brighter for these families, but they need help.

“A lot of people think when you leave an abusive relationship that your life is just amazing and easy and everything is over.  You’re safe now.  It’s good now. That first year for me was probably the hardest year of my life,” said Jessica Smith.

Smith and her children survived an abusive relationship 11 years ago.  She now volunteers with InterAct; a non-profit that provides resources and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Each year, InterAct hosts a “Holiday Bazaar,” a chance for parents and children to pick out toys and gifts for each other.  

Smith says the event also provides hope to these families.

After leaving her abusive relationship, Smith says there were times she feared she’d have to go back.

“Then something would happen like a small act of kindness. A co-worker’s mother would stop by for lunch and give me $25 for gas for my car.  A neighbor gave my name to her church and they paid our electric bill,” said Smith.  “Every time something like that would happen, it was a reminder ‘you can do this. Keep going, keep going.'”

Smith says the Holiday Bazaar provides that hope for other families.

“It’s about more than one safe, happy holiday.  It is really about helping people secure a safe, happy lifetime of holidays,” she said.

Due to COVID-19, rather than host families at InterAct, the nonprofit will provide roughly 100 families with gift boxes.

Each box is filled with a game or puzzle, book, sweet treats, a gingerbread house kit, and gift cards for parents to shop for themselves and their kids.

However, InterAct needs donations of $25 and $50 gift cards to Walmart, Target and Visa to complete the boxes.  A spokesperson says this provides families with a more dignified way to shop.

Other supplies have already been donated.

The deadline to donate gift cards is Dec. 2, so the boxes can be distributed to families during the drive-thru event on Dec. 5.

Gift cards can be dropped off at 1012 Oberlin Road, Raleigh, N.C. 27605 before or on Dec. 2.

Donors may also donate online by clicking here.

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