Holiday Helpers Program a chance for kids to celebrate

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, November 23, 2022

SALISBURY — The Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center is having its 2022 Holiday Helper Program this year to assist kids who have been victims of abuse buy gifts and other essentials.

The advocacy center is one of 50 centers in North Carolina, that also happens to be nationally accredited, “We meet the national standard in a lot of different areas,” said Erin Moody, the center’s prevention and education coordinator. “We take all suspected physical and sexual abuse cases in Rowan County from law enforcement and social services, so that’s how clients get referred to us.”

Victims of abuse arrive at the center to be interviewed, have any medical procedures done, or can be prescribed any medication that they need. “It’s nice because a child will have an appointment with us and we’ll get it all done in one swoop so they can stop worrying about it. So they don’t have like nine different appointments,” Moody said.

The center itself is rather kid friendly, with games, TVs, snacks, and even a therapy dog named Murphy there to help make the situation as pleasant as can be. At the end of the appointment, kids can pick out a toy or gift card.

“The big thing is we don’t charge for anything that we do. If you don’t have insurance, you don’t have to worry about a medical exam or lab work. You don’t have to worry about a co-pay when you come see your therapist,” Moody said.

Right before the holidays, the Holiday Helper Program is there to aid families of abuse buy presents or anything else they might need this time of year.

“We touch base with every single kid that we’ve seen this year and ask, ‘Do you need help with the holidays?’ We ask their caretakers and a lot of them do, some of them don’t,” Moody confirmed.

“People are donating Amazon cards or financial donations. We have many different electronic ways they can do that. We get specific wishlists like wishes what they would like, but also like, ‘Do you have winter jacket? Do you have closed-toed shoes?’ We’ll buy them and ship them right to their house so those families can still do their own holiday traditions.”

Before this process, other people with the program would do the shopping and wrapping and the families would come pick the gifts up themselves. According to Moody, “This gives families more autonomy and more dignity.”

The center advertises online and accept donations until Dec. 2. For new cases after the second, they’ll still go to the store and drop things off in time for Hanukkah or Christmas. They also do a school supplies drop at the end of the summer, run summer camps, and are always accepting donations year round to help kids do activities like football or field hockey.

“It’s just really about helping that child process what they’ve experienced, get them into the right mental health care, but also helping them get back to their childhood again,” Moody said.

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Murphy helps “take some of the emotional hardships away from the appointments.”

The interview room is where interviewers speak to kids in detail about their ordeal.