Five teams of nine associates each competed to see which team could collect the most in clothing and other necessities to help the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County.
The Children’s Advocacy Center helps children age three to 18 who have been victims of abuse. It provides a safe, supporting environment for kids whose lives are in turmoil and works with a variety of concerned parties—including law enforcement, child protective services, the district attorney’s office, therapists, and volunteers—to coordinate services and inquiries so that the child is not needlessly re-traumatized by having to answer the same questions repeatedly when what they most require is respite.
Duke Realty property manager Christy Walters helped get the Dallas office involved with the cause two years ago, after taking an 11-week class at the Plano City Police Academy. She learned from Sergeant Rich of the Plano Police how the center’s family assistance program helps families affected by abuse and left in need of rent, food, and transportation. Says Walters, “It sounded like a good opportunity to help the local community and give something to those close to home.”
The Dallas office has long held a clothing drive for the holidays, and this was an area where the Children’s Advocacy Center could use help as well. “When a child is removed from an abusive situation,” Walters says, “they sometimes have only the clothes on their backs. The center is able to provide them with clothes, underwear, toiletries, and comfort items like blankets and stuffed toys.” Walters points out that 97% of the center’s funding comes from donations, so having volunteers collect these items is a huge help.
Clothing and other items end up in a part of the center known as the Rainbow Room, a welcoming and colorful environment that’s set up like a store for the kids. The only difference is, there’s no money required. Kids who come to the Rainbow Room choose all the clothes, toys, and necessities they need to see them through while their situation is sorted out.
Jeff Thornton, Regional Senior Vice President for Duke Realty’s Texas Operations, thinks there’s more to the name than just the range of colors. “After a rainy day,” he says, “the rainbow is what comes out. These kids are scared, they’ve been abused, they’re from broken homes. The center is trying to give these kids a safe refuge.”
The annual clothing drive and competition has been only part of Duke Realty’s involvement. “Last April,” Thornton says, “during our annual company-wide Day of Service, we cleaned and organized the center’s play room. They also hold an annual fundraising banquet and the last couple of years we’ve purchased a table, supporting them not just with time, but with dollars.”
Thornton sees the time and money the office has donated as “the easy part.” The people at Duke Realty, he says, “either have kids or have a love for kids, so we wanted to do something for kids, with a group that really has some backbone. Being there for those kids every day, to support them, making sure they’re healthy, dealing with the emotions, helping them to sort through and go forward. That’s the hard part. We give what we can to support the important efforts of the center.”
The Container Store is a long-term tenant located at Freeport X. The Container Store provides Elfa shelving to the Children’s Advocacy Center so clothing items can be sorted and easily accessed. Duke Realty is happy to contribute clothing, toys and toiletries to the Children’s Advocacy Center to ensure that the shelves are never bare for children in need.