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Giving Back in Westmoreland County

If you turn on the radio or TV this week, you’re bound to hear that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!” For many in our community, this is a time of celebration and gratitude. With parties and cookies, candles and trees, the holiday season is full of cheer, and a perfect time to give back to your community – especially to support those who may not have the opportunity for celebration and cheer. Blackburn Center provides emergency shelter services for victims of domestic violence in Westmoreland County, giving them a safe place to stay in a time of crisis. Our dedicated staff works to ensure that the shelter is a haven for all who seek it. But we can’t do it without you — the generous support of our volunteers and donors is critical to maintaining the shelter.

There are lots of great ways to help support our shelter, including donations of goods or funds. On our website, you can find a list of our current shelter needs, which is updated each month to reflect our most current needs. Our most needed items are highlighted with bold and italics on our list — things like non-perishable food, zip-lock bags, diapers and toiletry items that tend to be used frequently. We also collect items that help our residents get a fresh start in life, like gift cards for gas or stores. Due to space limitations, we only accept new items for our shelter; gently used items can be donated to local thrift stores (St. Vincent DePaul, The YWCA Thrift Shop and Christian Layman Corps, all in Greensburg), which then make these items available to our shelter residents at no cost. By donating to our shelter, you are contributing in a very tangible way to the safety and well-being of people right in your community!

Of course, donations to our shelter can go beyond the needs list. Companies and organizations often team up for donation drives to help fill specific needs for our shelter — a great community project! Recently, a United Way of Westmoreland County donor partnered with Charley Family Shop ’n Save to fill our shelter pantry in a BIG way!

As part of a campaign incentive program, United Way donor Tom Waltz of Latrobe won a “supermarket sweep” at the Shop ’n Save in Murrysville, and selected Blackburn Center as the recipient of his “sweep.” Mr. Waltz was a champion shopper — filling two carts with over $1,370 worth of food in just three minutes!! Mr. Waltz made sure to fill his carts with lots of protein, a high-value item that is rarely in the shelter’s budget. He then donated his $250 gift card to the shelter, bringing the total donation value to over $1,500! We are so incredibly appreciative of all the support we receive from our community — from individual donors, community groups, and businesses.

If you are looking for a way to give back this holiday season, please consider supporting our emergency shelter – or any of our other victim services — through a donation of goods to our shelter or to a local thrift store, or through a monetary donation. With your help, we can continue to provide much-needed assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Westmoreland County — and to work towards a day when the violence ends!

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