The Freeport community rallied to make it Christmas in July for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, thanks to a drive sponsored by the Freeport Police Department on Wednesday.
More than $1,500 in donations and toiletries were raised for Voices of Stephenson County, a non-profit organization that provides services for women who have suffered abuse.
The drive started after a Freeport Police officer attended a women’s empowerment conference at which he was challenged to help women’s shelters in his community.
Officer William Whitfield says he sees the effects of domestic violence every day and hopes the drive will help survivors see there’s hope for their future.
“Sometimes, I can sense that certain people don’t want to leave [a violent situation] because they don’t feel they have an option,” Ofc. Whitfield said. “So, the whole idea behind [the fundraising drive] was to give them that option and let them know that there are people in the community that care about [them] and want [them] to have a better life.”
Leslie Brown, an outreach worker at Voices of Stephenson County, said, “They don’t have things at their fingertips, down to simple things for their children, and so this makes a huge difference in just letting the community know that there are resources here, within our own community, and so, we’re able to help and assist more families with the basic needs that they have.”