Women’s shelter hosting ‘Mardi Bras’ event to collect donations for domestic violence survivors

As the name suggests, they’re asking the public to donate new undergarments to women who’ve left abusive homes without the necessary clothing.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A shelter for domestic violence survivors needs your help so they can continue to help others.

Portsmouth’s H.E.R. Shelter has launched an initiative called “Mardi Bras.” Officials there are asking for the public to donate new undergarments for women at the shelter. 

The shelter’s Community Engagement Manager, Deborah Apperson said domestic violence has surged during the coronavirus pandemic.

The calls for help are going up.

“It has been a difficult year,” she said. “In 2019, we had 1,185 calls to our hotline. In 2020, we had 2,158.”

Their spending is also increasing.

“Typically in years past, we spend between $6,000 and $8,000 on hotels for some clients who can’t be in the shelter, itself. This year we’ve spent over $70,000.”

Thousands were spent helping men, women and children leave abusive homes.

So the group has a new effort, this year, to get some much-needed supplies.

RELATED: Virginia sees spike in calls to hotlines for domestic violence

“We are celebrating Mardi Bras, this year!” Apperson said. “We are collecting new bras, underwear and feminine hygiene products for our clients at the H.E.R. Shelter.”

You can buy items on the shelter’s Amazon wish list.

You can mail them in, drop them off, or donate money so shelter employees can buy the items themselves. 

The initiative will end on Feb. 16, the same day as Mardi Gras – or Fat Tuesday.

Apperson said these are common things that a lot of domestic violence survivors may not think to grab, especially if they’re leaving in a hurry.

“A lot of women come into shelter with very little. Some come with absolutely nothing, some come with just a few things,” Apperson said.

“When you’re packing your most worldly possessions, packing bras and underwear probably not at the top of your list, honestly – It certainly wouldn’t be on mine. But when you go to get dressed in the morning, that’s the first thing you grab.”

You can drop off donations on Feb. 16, as well as donate money, online via the shelter’s donation website.

For more information on how to help or if you need help, visit http://hershelter.com.

If you, or someone you know, is in an abusive situation, you can call the H.E.R. Shelter hotline at 757-485-3384.

If you need help immediately, call the police at 911.

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