HER shelter partners with Starbucks to help domestic violence victims this holiday season

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Christmas may look different for many of us this year, but as the holiday season approaches, a growing number of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking are looking for some peace and safety.

The HER Shelter in Portsmouth is teaming up with some area Starbucks stores to help make that happen.

“They don’t know what Christmas is going to look like, what the holidays are going to look like its already a tough situation they’re going through,” said HER Shelter Executive Director Olivia Smithberger.

There are plenty of children in shelters right now. Smithberger told WAVY these families are dealing not only with their personal crises but virtual learning as well.

“So there’ s a lot of additional stressors on both adults and children right now,” she said.

Add to that the stress of figuring out how to provide a holiday and it’s likely more than a mother can take.

“So it really means the world to be able to wake up on Christmas morning and have that pile of gifts there and know that Santa showed up and cares,” Smithberger said.

But Santa is going to need some angels to help out.

Angel trees are going up at nearly a dozen Starbucks locations in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

The empty branches will soon don tags expressing the wishes of shelter residents, from newborn to 60-something years old. Just take a tag, buy the gifts and return them to the store by Dec. 9.

Those wanting to donate can also go to the HER holiday page online and give a gift of joy by purchasing through their Amazon wish list or making a donation by texting HERSHELTER to 269-89.

No matter how a person chooses to give, Smithberger says their gift is sure to bring light and joy on Christmas morning.


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