Donated clothes to help victims of domestic violence, rape |

Donated clothes to help victims of domestic violence, rape

Megan Tomasic
Over 20 boxes were packed with clothes to be used at Excela Health hospitals to help victims of domestic violence and rape.
Over 20 boxes were packed with clothes to be used at Excela Health hospitals to help victims of domestic violence and rape.

More than 20 boxes filled with newly purchased clothes sat in the basement of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Greensburg, a handmade cross carefully placed underneath the clear plastic lid.

Five Excela Health emergency room nurses sat to the side, waiting to take the clothes to the system’s three hospitals to be used to help victims of domestic violence and rape.

“This program to me is very meaningful,” Brandi Hall, an emergency department nurse at Excela Health Frick Hospital, said this week. “We see patients everyday come in, whether it be a rape victim or just a person who was in a car accident. These little things can mean everything.

“Same thing if they’re going through a stressful event, such as a rape, and just to give them fresh clothing and they don’t have to go out in their gown is a wonderful thing,” she said.

In cases like rapes, victims’ clothes are collected for testing, leaving them with nothing else to wear. Victims often are sent home in a hospital gown or a family member is responsible for bringing new clothes to the hospital, Hall said.

Headed by Joan Orr, a member of the Lutheran church, members of 11 local churches were given different sizes to collect for the boxes, which were filled with loose fitting jackets, pants with an elastic waistbands, socks and underwear.

Backup boxes remain at the church to replenish the clothes when needed.

Every minute, about 24 people are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website. That equates to 12 million women and men per year, or 29% of women and 10% of men.

Now, thanks to Orr and several Lutheran churches, victims have clothes to go home in.

Attending an event at Lutherlyn Camp in Butler last fall, Orr and a group of people from her church learned about the Lilly Project, which puts together kits like the ones made by the Lutheran church.

“We talked about it quite a bit and I thought about it for awhile and said, ‘You know, we could do this,’” she said.

Seeing extra space in the Greensburg church, Orr worked with Excela to learn the needs of the hospitals and figured out ways to raise money for the clothes.

Thrivent, a not-for-profit financial services organization, gave four of the 11 churches grants that added up to $1,000, allowing them to buy enough clothes for the project with money left over.

After months of working to bring the project to fruition, Orr said she is relieved to have the boxes completed. Her favorite part about the packages is the crosses that were added to each box.

“It’s our symbol of our faith, and it drives us to do for (others) what our Lord has asked us … and in this case it is (to help) people who are in need because of violence from other people,” she said.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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