Employees of the Fashion Bug store in St. Marys wanted to do something to help make a difference in the community, so they decided to throw a "fit."
Today and Sunday, they are holding a free bra-fitting event for customers who stop in order to collect donations for the shelter run by Citizens Against Physical, Sexual and Emotional Abuse, Inc. (CAPSEA), a nonprofit organization that provides services for victims of domestic and sexual violence and other serious crime victims in Elk and Cameron counties.
Lois Cheatle, Fashion Bug manager, said employees at the local branch decided to hold the event to help replace items that were stored in the shelter's basement and subsequently damaged during flooding caused by heavy rainfall in December.
"It was a local thing - not a corporate idea," Cheatle said. "When we realized everything that CAPSEA lost, we were like, 'You know what? This is one of our neighbors.' And we need to help them out."
Becky Grazioli, staff member at the shelter, said support for CAPSEA from the community has been "wonderful" and that this latest donation drive is one of several that have been held throughout the two counties since the flooding occurred.
"The community's always been good with donations, but it's been really amazing," Grazioli said.
Cheatle noted that while men are also victims of various types of abuse and that CAPSEA stands ready to assist them as well, statistically, the largest number of victims are women. She said the local Fashion Bug staff hit on the idea of a bra-fitting because they were thinking about women's self-esteem and things women do to boost their confidence, whether finding a piece of clothing that looks good on them or making positive changes in their lives, and how victims of abuse in particular often struggle to rebuild their sense of self and regain confidence in themselves.
"We just felt that to give back to another woman is our commitment to do out here, to give to women who have been in an abusive situation," Cheatle said.
Grazioli said helping women regain their self-esteem is a very important component of what CAPSEA does.
"We empower women. When you walk in, there's no judging. We give options and our job as counselors is to empower them and make them stronger and give them the tools to be able to stand up for themselves and be able to feel better about themselves," Grazialo said.
The store will not accept frozen or perishable food items during the donation event, but Cheatle said the following items are welcome: laundry detergent and bleach; automatic dishwasher detergent; tall kitchen garbage bags; coffee and tea supplies; shampoo, conditioner, women's razors, shaving cream and other toiletries; children's snacks and juice boxes; canned soup and pasta; paper towels, toilet paper and tissues; Lysol Spray, disinfectant wipes and other cleaning supplies; small appliances such as toasters; dishes and cutlery; cash donations; and gift cards to Wal-Mart, gas stations and other area stores.