AJ Youth Conducting Holiday Benefit for CAAFA

Collection to continue through December 22

By Dana Trumbull

Madeline “Maddie” Drake is conducting a holiday donation drive for Community Alliance Against Family Abuse  (CAAFA) to support the children of families uprooted by domestic violence. She started planning where she would want to place collection boxes last summer, organized the effort and began meeting with store managers and city officials in September to gain necessary permissions. The drive, thus far, is proving to be enthusiastically successful. Maddie is 12.

“My dad introduced me to what CAAFA was shortly before Christmas last year,” she explained. I wanted to do this, because these kids have to walk away from everything, in the middle of the night sometimes, and they don’t get to bring anything with them. So this is a chance for them to get what they need and maybe some nice stuff, too, for Christmas.”

Helping with the legwork is Maddie’s friend, Arie Sornberger. “We’ve been friends since second grade,” Maddie shared. “She just thought this was so awesome, so I brought her on as a partner.” Maddie’s parents, Steve and Melissa Drake, both of whom work for the city, purchased the donation boxes and have chauffeured the pair to local businesses, but Steve proudly asserts, “This is totally her.”

“I am just very thankful to all the people who donated,” said Maddie. “It has been so awesome seeing how much stuff we’re collecting for these kids.”

The list of items needed is varied, including baby wipes and diapers, toys, children’s DVDs and books, arts and crafts supplies, sporting equipment, personal hygiene items, makeup, purses, pajamas, underwear and shoes (children and adult). All items must be new and in the original packaging.

Donations must be dropped off by December 22 at a participating business: Hacker’s Grill, Crazy Horse Saddle Shop, Dirtwater Springs, Ace Hardware, Shopper’s Supply, the Apache Junction Library or the Multi-Gen Center. Items donated will supplement CAAFA’s annual “Holiday House” drive.

About CAAFA:

CAAFA’s mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to be free from abuse through collaboration, prevention, awareness and support.

The agency was founded in 1998 by community members who were confronted by the tragic reality that local victims of domestic violence and their children were living in their cars and out in the desert, because they had nowhere to go.

CAAFA has grown substantially since then, now serving victims of domestic violence from east Maricopa and northern Pinal counties and victims of sexual violence from eastern Maricopa and all of Pinal County. CAAFA provides a 16-bed emergency shelter, support groups, legal advocacy, case management, sexual assault victim advocacy, nutritional support and community outreach services.

Photo above: Maddie Drake (left) with the owner of Crazy Horse Saddle Shop, Paula Smith (right)

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