Kickin’ It Club spread the love in honor of Valentine’s Day Feb. 9 and 10. Club president, eleventh-grader Grace Wickerson, invited students during sixth– and eighth-periods to come help write Valentine’s Day cards for the misplaced men, women and children who are currently seeking shelter with the local Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC).
Wickerson first decided to begin the Kickin’ It Club’s Valentine’s Day campaign when she was inspired by her past work with SPARCC. SPARCC works as an emergency center to help get victims of abuse back on their feet, an idea that coincides well with the very meaning of the club as a self-defense education. She first came in contact with the program while raising $2,000 with her church through a donation drive.
SPARCC’s purpose is very similar to the education Wickerson is striving to achieve through Kickin’ It Club, which focuses not just on physical self defense, but on the importance of stopping abuse and other personal safety messages. “We’re trying to tie in the message of taking care of yourself,” Wickerson said. “It’s ultimately training and awareness.”
SPARCC school educator Camille Chapman, who is currently working to spread education on abuse to schools across the county, collaborated with Wickerson and Pine View volunteers. “Violence crosses all barriers,” Chapman said. “It’s better to have the resources… and teach them not to blame themselves.”
At the Valentine’s Day event, Wickerson used stacks of pastel-colored construction paper, over a hundred markers and more than 4,000 stickers to try to brighten up the holiday for as many SPARCC residents as possible.
“We were hoping to write messages in chalk, too,” Wickerson said. Due to stormy weather, Wickerson had to postpone the awareness campaign to Wednesday. Wickerson and fellow club members chalked out messages of love in front of the art rooms, reminding students that “Love is Respect” and “Love is Kindness.”
Wickerson hopes to continue Kickin’ It Club’s holiday campaigns for kindness by beginning a donation drive this Easter. “We’re looking for small toys, candies, stuffed animals… items you would find in Easter baskets,” Wickerson said. “And of course, we could use some actual baskets as well.”
Wickerson, Chapman and the Kickin’ It Club are working to raise both morale and necessities for those utilizing SPARCC. According to Chapman, arrivals at the shelter use it as a stepping stone to a more stable future, and often times have left their dangerous situation without much chance to pack. “It’s difficult,” Chapman said. “We get people in the shelter without much more than the shirts on their backs.”
Through donations from the school and the community, Wickerson hopes to see even more participation in the coming months. After the holidays, it is not uncommon to see a dry spell for donation-run facilities. “Everyone donates at Christmas, but not other parts of the year,” Wickerson said. “For us, it’s important that those with less get what they need year-round.”