About 30 boxes and bags rested outside the White Marsh police precinct Tuesday morning. After months of collecting and packaging food, clothing, toiletries and toys, Baltimore County police Pfc. Misty Huber presented the items to the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County.
As the precinct's domestic violence coordinator, Huber said she recommends victims to the center "almost daily." But Huber's frequent interaction with the Dundalk non-profit organization revealed an unfortunate reality. The combination of the economic downtown and a growing number of victims has made the need for basic items, such as, diapers, blankets and shampoo, greater than ever.
"The crisis center cannot function without community support," Huber said.
Between February and June, in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week in April, she organized a community drive in the precinct's lobby.
Domestic violence is far more common than people imagine, said Rebecca Foster, director of the center's shelter.
"Walk along a townhouse development or an apartment complex and count: one, two, three, four. It impacts one out of every four homes, more than that actually, about 28 percent," Foster said.
Baltimore County received 11,000 reports of abuse last year, although that number represents only about a third of actual cases, said Douglas Murphy, executive director of the center, which houses 400-500 victims each year.
"They come to us with very few possessions," he said. "They are fleeing the violence of their families."
Donations like the one organized by Huber not only help the victims, they raise awareness of the problem, said Regina Abbott-Cohen, a victims' advocate coordinator at the center.
"Even in this day and age, people are still of the mindset that what goes on in the house should stay in the house," Abbott-Cohen said. "Victims need to know that help is available."
Huber said she plans to make the collection an ongoing project. Community members may donate food, clothing, toys, cell phones and toiletries in the precinct's lobby at 8220 Perry Hall Blvd. in White Marsh. Items will be donated to the crisis center, the Eastern Family Resource Center at Franklin Square Hospital Center and other area shelters, Huber said.
More information about the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County can be found on its website, http://www.familycrisiscenter.net/. Victims may contact the crisis hotline at 410-828-6390.