The Ottumwa Courier

December 20, 2012

Remembering those in need during the holidays

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Families can be in crisis at any time during the year but the holidays always seem more poignant.

The Crisis Center & Women’s Shelter now has 31 women and children in shelter care, according to Executive Director Cheryl Brown.

What do women and children in shelter care need at Christmastime?

“We can always use the basics, such as food, dried goods, and paper products,” she said Wednesday.

Brown said her staff does shop for an assortment of gifts for children and considers some of the shopping to be a challenge.

“The older kids, especially the teenagers, are a challenge and it’s hard to have stuff for them,” she said. “But we do try to have things that fit all age groups.”

Brown hopes people will write letters of support for shelter care and remember the shelter in their year-end donations to various agencies that rely on community donations.

“This is when decisions are made for which projects remain open,” she said. “It’s hard to ask for [funding] but we have to. Overall, we’re prepared for the storm.”

Brown said her staff had spent all day putting care packages together for the women at the shelter. The shelter has helped some women through outreach but not a lot, and some of the women in shelter care have recently moved out.

“It’s exciting to see folks moving to their own houses,” Brown said. “A couple of families have moved out because they’re now stable.”

The shelter has been busy in recent months, and Brown said several people had slept on cots during the past month. She said the arrangement was better than leaving people unhoused.

Those who would like to contribute funding to the shelter can send donations or letters of support to the Crisis Center, P.O. Box 446, Ottumwa, Iowa, 52501. The shelter is a United Way agency.

“We’re also looking for volunteers because we don’t have enough staff,” she said.