16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter

If you’ve been thinking about supporting issues pertaining to violence against women, one of the best times to start helping your local domestic violence is during the holiday season.  With The Pixel Project’s contribution to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence being its new “16 for 16” blogging campaign, this blog post brings you 16 ways to help your local Domestic Violence Shelter and will hopefully give you a jumpstart to assist the needs of a local shelter in your area.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Victims of Crime, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Women are abused emotionally, financially, and physically in many of these situations. Abusers create an environment of fear and intimidation using verbal threats and physical violence, as well as controlling the financial resources. This makes it very difficult for anyone being abused to flee.

Domestic violence shelters are so important to help women break free from their horrid conditions and offer an environment that helps them stay free, as well as without fear of murder.  One-third of female homicide victims are women killed by an intimate partner, according to a fact sheet by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States. Unfortunately, this statistic is so high because many women are killed as they try to leave their abusers.

Having somewhere safe to hide from their abuser is VERY vital to women of abuse. Many times women leave quickly with their children while their partner is away. They take nothing more than the clothes on their backs in their desperate attempt to get away before being seen.  Shelters are wonderful havens that provide food, shelter, clothing, and victim assistance to those seeking refuge.

With the economic downturn and the need for more donated funds, battered women shelters across the globe struggle to do a lot with little funds, while being understaffed and having more and more women to serve. That’s why your help is even more important to stock the shelter, raise needed funds, and increase employee and victim morale.

Volunteers and supporters are always needed and there should be a domestic violence shelter in almost every county or city around the globe. Call your local shelter and see the best way that you can contribute to their work, or suggest one of the following as a way you would be willing to help.

Written by Erin Al-Mehairi; Edited by Tim Busbey and Regina Yau


Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 1:  GIft Cards

Women many times leave their homes very quickly without packing. All they take with them are their children and the clothes on their back. A great way to assist would be clothing or superstore gift cards (so they can buy correct sizes) or offer to personally shop for them if they cannot leave the shelter. Having even an extra change of clothing when they have nothing would help and for survivors who are ready to leave the shelter, gift cards to help them get professional work attire is a great way to help them with the process of securing a job and building a new, independent life.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 2:  Hygiene Items

Hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razors, deodorant, toothbrushes and paste, tampons and pads, diapers, and wipes are always items needed by women who have left their homes quickly. Your local shelter may already have a list of their most needed items. A great way to give back anytime of the year is to host a fund-raiser with your group of friends or club and see how many items you can donate to the shelter collectively.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 3:  Group Collections

If you belong to a group, pick one particular item and have members bring them to meetings or get-togethers all throughout the year. For instance, many local, regional and state sects of the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation in the U.S. gather flip-flops for women all year and take them to their local shelters.  Your group could choose one main item and have members bring them to meetings, events, or even do a special theme surrounding it to make it more fun and bring in more donations.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 4:  Bake Goodies

Bake cookies or goodies and take them to your local shelter for the employees, as well as those living in the shelter, for the holidays or the weekend. Employees will appreciate you thinking of them for all their hard work and women and children in the shelter will be thankful for a homemade or special treat to brighten their day.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 5:  Gifts for Staff

Purchase holiday gifts for your local domestic violence shelter staff. A massage gift certificate, a restaurant gift card, a bath and body gift basket, or anything that embodies a relaxing time for them for all their long and tireless hours.

The Pixel Project currently has a fund-raising option with Spa Fundraiser in which you can purchase exclusive “Purple Pamper Package” gift certificates good for a mini spa pampering session.  They are just US$25 (valued at US$150)! Funds go towards the The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal Campaign; however, the charitable impact is furthered if you buy to donate to one of the thirty (30) women’s shelters who signed up to receive them.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 6:  Work at a Hotline

Check and see if your local shelter or rape crisis center has a domestic violence or rape crisis hotline that is in need of volunteers. Since these lines are generally open 24 hours a day, every day, they many times utilize volunteers to keep costs down. Usually volunteers have to go through a training course and then commit to work several times a week answering the phones. You have to be willing to do the training and work your schedule, but this can be a very rewarding way to offer your assistance right on the front lines, so to speak.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 7: Write a Newsletter

If you prefer writing, perhaps you could offer your assistance to do a local shelter’s quarterly or monthly newsletter. If you can’t do the entire layout and design, or the organization prefers to do this themselves, offer to write a few articles a month on a topic surrounding women’s rights.  You could also offer to fold, seal, and mail the newsletter.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 8:  Use Your Artistic Abilities

If you are artistic, offer to teach free lessons or host craft times at the shelter for the women or kids. This will help them take their mind of stressful situations and provide the children with some much needed entertainment.  Or offer to help create and/or stock an art or craft area for the shelter by providing paper, paint, play dough, scrap fabric, glue, glitter, recycled materials such as glass jars and bottles, plastic tubs, newspaper, and more.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 9:  Clean

If cleaning is your forte, you could call and see if they could use a hand cleaning donated items, shelving, rooms, laundry, or just overall organizing their space.  If you enjoy interior decorating, you could buy new items and work your magic to create a home-life atmosphere of tranquility and peace.

Way to Help Your local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 10:  Cook Meals or Donate Food

This is a suggestion from a young male volunteer aged 12, who loves to cook.  One of the things you might equate with home and safety is a good home-cooked meal.  Call your local shelter and find out about food donations. Do they have a pantry they must keep filled for the guest to cook their own meals? Offer to run a drive for much needed items at a time of year when the pantry gets low. Ask if you could host a cooking class teaching the women how to cook nutritious, yet quick meals for her family.  Teaching a class where cooking is done utilizing pantry-type items is a way to ensure families are eating right while under stress and, if needed, teach essential life skills that will help them in their new future.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 11:  Share and Help from Your Experiences

Ask your local shelter what volunteer options are available for peer-to-peer support services.   If you are a survivor yourself, you could offer valuable emotional support to those going through the process.  Many times, leaders of the domestic violence support groups are volunteers and that could be YOU! These women are very scared and need a helping hand and an attentive ear to work through their emotional journey.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 12:  Community Education

Although one of the purposes and missions of any domestic violence organization should be community education, many times they just can’t do as much as they would like due to budgets and staffing. Possibly, you could volunteer time to take their materials to various service groups and organizations in your area and talk about the mission, goals, and needs of the shelter, while gaining awareness for domestic violence issues in your community.  You could contact your local library and ask to put up a display on domestic violence awareness, with information on resources that are available in your community such as your local shelter.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 13:  Let Kids Help Other Kids

If your children would like to be involved here is an idea from one of our 8-year-old female supporters—for your next birthday party invite your friends and have them bring with their gift, or in place of a gift to you, something for the children at the domestic violence shelter. Good ideas include coloring books, crayons, books, puzzles, blocks, stuffed animals, gift cards, or whatever you think another child would enjoy since he/she had to leave all her favorite items behind.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 14:  Help with Childcare

If you love children, your assistance with child care could be greatly appreciated by both the shelter and the families.  If your local shelter does not have the funds to employ a full-time childcare staff, and most don’t, then you could offer some of your time to care for the children at the shelter in a group at a certain day or time, or work with a single mom as she schedules meetings with lawyers, needs time for paperwork, housing appointments, and the list goes on. Sometimes they might not be able to take the children to their regular daycare due to a stalking partner so childcare while the mom works is also important.  Leaving an old life and starting a new one can be time consuming and confusing and you could help ease that by assisting in the care of her children.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 15:  Plan a Fundraiser

Put on a fund-raiser such as a 5K run, a bake sale (watch every year for The Pixel Project’s annual “Paint It Purple” campaign, during which time you can bake cupcakes and sell them, splitting the money between your local organization and The Pixel Project), a bazaar, a dinner and dance, or a silent auction.  Put on your creative thinking cap and come up with something unique that will work in your community to raise awareness for domestic violence and your local shelter’s work, while also raising much needed funds to support their efforts.

Way to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter Number 16: Give!

Last, but not least, just simply DONATE. If you don’t have much free time to spend now in your life, but still want to help, donate money and gift cards for many different stores. Donate any old cell phones you have.  Check your local shelters list of much-needed items to see what will make the most impact. Don’t forget the families at Christmas or holiday times, as that is when items, gifts, and clothing are needed even more.

Whatever you decide to do, or can afford, your local domestic violence shelter is always in need of volunteers to help keep them running. Helping women of abuse, and children from those homes, can be very hard and grueling work, but is so important and in turn, can be so rewarding. You will be helping to change lives, no matter how much time or money you can invest.

15 thoughts on “16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter

  1. I would love to help in any way possible…starting with volunteering my time on phones, child care, my niece has partnership in a beauty salon I would pay for a day of hair care..just want to help God has been so mercyful to me.

    • Hello Henrietta Miller,
      Although it has been almost 4 years since you left your post stating you’d like to help battered women, I don’t now if you are still in the position to help, but our shelter could sure use any help we can get. Please email me at strengthenoursisters@gmail.com so we can discuss your post.
      Thank you and God bless you
      Bridgette Maziekien

  2. WONDERFUL article! I’m currently doing a campaign with my Mary Kay unit to donate items for local shelters and I’ve also volunteered to go do some pampering with the women and teach them professional make up tips for job interviews, etc. This is such good info. I’m going to post it on my MK and personal FB page. Thanks for compiling! 🙂

  3. Hello. I have bags of new and like new clothing items that were left after the passing of my sister this pass february. Does any of the centers need clothing? or can anyone give me information on where i may be able to donate these clothings for someone who may truly be in need? thank you

    • I have two closets of jeans and tops in excellent condition.

      Who should I phone for a pick up? Or give me some addresses of women suffering from domestic violence and I will drop the clothes off there.

  4. I would like to help by donating clothes and baby furniture. Where can I go to donate my time as well? Please let me know.

  5. I’ve got clothes for girls size 3,4,5 and a few for adults want them to go to a shelter not savers.Where can I take them?

  6. I don’t know if anyone’s ever heard of it but I am an americorp member in WV and where I serve at I would like to try and collect donations to send to a safe house for domestic violence victims in WV. So I am wondering if someone can help me figure out who and where to send stuff and is there a way to ship it free or drop off donations near me?

  7. I have some Dolls like our generation that people donates to me i clean them up and I sew them a wardrobe and put them in tote bags, i am looking for places to donate them, if you want them please let me know.

  8. I have many gently used stuffed animals of varying sizes and would like to donate them to a local San Francisco or Daly City shelter…can you put me in touch with such an agency? Thanks in advance for your prompt reply.

  9. Stregthen Our Sisters is a shelter for battered and homeless women and children located in northern New Jersey. We are operating without any major source of funding for the past 6 years. Currently we are operating with the help of several Volunteer employees that were once paid employees. We depend on minimal contributions from our clients and monetary donations to keep our door open. We do not turn people away regardless of their ability to pay contribution. Anyone wishing to help please email us at stregthenoursisters@gmail.com or you may call us at 973-657-1357.

  10. I would like to donate professional clothing and jewelry to the woman’s shelter. How do I do this

  11. I have many beautiful, sweaters, tops, slacks, jackets etc. for a very small women or girl. How can we donate them to a shelter

  12. Great ideas on ways to contribute, become involved and raise awareness! I do suggest that before anyone considers any of the activities described in this article, all of which are great, contact the local DV agency first, NOT after you’ve decided to do a fundraiser, especially if it involves physical items. Storage space is often an issue and only the agency can tell you what they need the most at any given time. Also, during the holidays, initiatives for clients are usually not for used items. Best to partner FIRST so that you are doing the best you can based on the needs of the agency and not what you think might be best.