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Newhall center gives back to battered women

Posted: December 23, 2008 9:15 p.m.
Updated: December 24, 2008 4:59 a.m.

A client leaves the Santa Clarita Domestic Violence Center in Newhall Tuesday. Her family received gifts for her children, food from Whole Foods and a spa package.

Battered women often seek emotional and physical shelter from fists, angry words and abusive partners at the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley in Newhall.

The process to recovery is long and worthwhile but often fraught with feelings of fear and hopelessness.

But Canyon Country neighbors Don and Kim Richards and Tony and Mary Andres gave a dose of holiday hope to 44 Santa Clarita Valley domestic-violence sufferers this holiday season by donating an enormous truckload of toys and personal gift items to shelter clients and their children.

"It was my wife's idea," Don Richards said. "We used to compete in The Signal light competition and we decided to scale back our display this year. She said, ‘We're hurting and other people are hurting so let's do something about it.'"

Richards' wife Kim is a "super-efficient, organized, go-get 'em type," he said.

So the Richards and Andres families decided to use this year's lights competition to advertise their new mission to help save Christmas for someone else.

"(Kim) and Mary basically scouted the community businesses, our acquaintances and friends and got people to donate things," Don Richards said. "It grew into a pretty big thing." One day a woman drove by the Richards' house and read a sign in their front yard advertising the collection for domestic-violence victims.

"She came by and said she used to be a domestic-violence sufferer and that she was a (discount department) store manager," Don Richards said. "She said she wanted to do something to help. So later she came back with a huge box of makeup kits."

Another business donated a series of movie tickets.

The gifts were intended for teenagers who are often forgotten at Christmas, he said.

Despite the economy and its bleak forecasts, Canyon Country businesses pulled together for the shelter.

Some donated goods. Others donated cash.

"We took the cash and bought things we needed that hadn't been donated yet," Don Richards said.

The night before the Richards family delivered the huge collection of Christmas items to the Domestic Violence Shelter, Kim and Mary got together and made 44 personal gift baskets, one for every current client at the shelter.

Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley Program Director Angela Rubalcava said she called all her clients - living in a shelter and in the community - and asked them to come in for the gift giveaway.

Each mother received a gift for her children and a basket for themselves.

"The baskets are really nice. They are pamper baskets. They have things like a journal and lotion - things to treat women nice," Rubalcava said. "And we got tons of toy donations. They were really careful to ask (people who donated) to be on the lookout for toys for all ages. It's hard for teens at this time of year.

"Our counseling room is packed right now."

Don Richards said he was proud of his wife.

"We had a big turnout and it was a successful toy drive," he said.

The Richards' house won sixth place in The Signal's annual holiday lights contest and can be seen on video at


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