Cards and donations help survivors of violence

Gracie Awalt

The Native American and Indigenous Collective will spread the love by creating Valentine’s Day cards this Friday to send along with donated hygiene products to victims of sexual assault, child abuse, exploitation and domestic violence.

The NAIC, which provides a place for students to honor their origins and ancestors, has been collecting donations of items such as feminine hygiene products and diapers since Jan. 16 for the Stop Abuse for Everyone Alliance of Austin.

“This donation drive embodies the indigenous value of redistribution,” said Angela Vela, NAIC director of operations. “Redistribution can be summarized as follows: If you have too much of something for yourself, then it is important to only take what you need and give to others.”

Vela, Mexican American studies senior, said many Native American women experience a disproportionate amount of sexual assault and hopes that this drive will bring awareness to all victims of violence.

“We know that Valentine’s Day is coming up and that it can be a difficult time for those experiencing violence,” Vela said. “We think it’s important for people to know what safety means in a relationship. Often, our society silences survivors of violence, making us afraid to speak up about violence.”

The donation drive was originally supposed to end this week, but the NAIC will continue to accept donations through next week. Alma Rosado, NAIC member and youth and community studies junior, said they would take all of the donations directly to SAFE headquarters.

“All donations will be given to the clients that SAFE helps, which are people who seek counseling to come to terms with the violent situations they’ve experienced,” Rosado said. “(SAFE) performs a broad range of community service by also helping with the children’s hospital and the homeless shelter.”

Rosado encourages anyone interested in making Valentine’s Day cards to come help this Friday.

“Any words of encouragement will help people cope with severe trauma,” Rosado said. “It will be very beneficial for the victims to have these cards, and it will definitely bring them a lot of joy.”

NAIC is housed in the Multicultural Engagement Center. Biology junior Chaitraja Kurati said her involvement with the MEC has fostered her own personal growth.

“This place has allowed me to develop my social justice framework,” Kurati said. “My experiences here have allowed me to find a community that has shared values and goals throughout my time here.”