Students warm holiday season for shelter

Hannah Baker

While visions of final exams dance in many students’ heads, a few SDSU students are taking the time to give back to the Brookings community.

Members of the Human Services Club made five tie-blankets on Dec. 6 for children helped by the Brookings Domestic Abuse Shelter.

“A lot of the kids come from less-fortunate families and come to the shelter with little to nothing of the their own, so we wanted to do something nice for them — especially this time of year,” said senior Hope Johnson, co-president of the Human Services Club.

The Domestic Abuse Shelter houses and serves men, women and children who have fallen victim to or survived domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Director Margo Dempsey said the shelter has an average of 350 to 450 new clients every year, with the majority being women ages 18 to 29 years old. Last year alone, the shelter housed around 62 people.

Dempsey likes to give a tie-blanket to the children when they first arrive. She said the blankets give them a sense of security, as well as something that they can call their own — even after they leave the shelter.

“Whether it’s an adult or child, getting the gift of a blanket is special because they are so warm and fuzzy and it shows that someone else is thinking about them,” Dempsey said.

Amber Uptagrafft, Human Services Club treasurer, picked out the fabric used to make the tie-blankets. She chose a variety of colors to please both young girls and boys.

“It feels good to do something like this because the blankets are going to people who really need it,” she said. “A blanket is something these children can keep for a long time and isn’t something they’ll grow out of in the next six months to a year.”

Because so many people will live in the shelter over the holiday season, Dempsey and the staff decorated the shelter to make it as “homey” as possible. Dempsey said one woman at the shelter told her it is not as bad as one might think.

“I said I didn’t know what could be worse than not being at home for the holidays and the lady I was talking to said, ‘Oh, there is worse — I just left it,’” Dempsey said.

Dempsey disagrees with the stereotype that college students only think about themselves.

“These people really do care and the tie-blankets are tied with love,” she said. “I’m very impressed with the young adults at SDSU because we get a lot of support.”

Johnson said giving the gift of warmth to help the community is the least the club could do.

“Even though we are college students, we can still help others,” she said. “Although we can’t do a lot, we are still doing what we can.”