When the Sleep Tight Kids team arrived at Mountain Child Advocacy Center at Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville on Wednesday, a seven-week-old infant who had been severely beaten was upstairs. She had two broken legs, five broken ribs, and internal swelling from a brutal assault—as well as injuries from earlier attacks that began at only four weeks old. Her own father was charged with the abuse.
Our contact at MCAC told us that they are seeing more and more cases like this one. On the day of our delivery there were only supposed to be four children getting forensic medical exams—but over the night four more phone calls had come in, and there were eight children sitting there now. The kids who pass through MCAC sign their initials on the leaves of a tree painted along one wall. Some leave short messages like, “Don’t be afraid.” The tree becomes part of their therapy and healing process.
More than five million children are reported as abused or neglected every year in the U.S., including more than 4,000 in Buncombe County alone. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and yet it’s hard sometimes, in the face of such abject cruelty, to even know where to begin.
Our Circle of Hope core volunteer group is at the heart of what Sleep Tight Kids does, and it can give us a place to start. The time commitment is flexible and the contributions can be small, but by growing our numbers we can reach and nurture more of these children who are so in need. Please consider becoming part of this group by reaching out via Facebook or the website.
We hold quarterly Circle of Hope meetings, and anyone can join (we usually announce them on Facebook). These volunteers might help make a delivery, pick up toy donations from O.P. Taylor’s, shop for clothes at the Carter’s outlet, move our Dip Jars to new locations, or help with our events—whatever time and energy they give makes an impact.
And the numbers add up: On Wednesday we delivered 20 blankets, 239 stuffed animals, 10 pajama sets, 310 dental kits, and 50 books to MCAC, as well as 15 pajama sets, 8 blankets, 6 washcloths, 250 dental kits, 96 stuffed animals, 200 books, 155 toothpastes to Safelight in Hendersonville. That’s a grand total of 1,359 items of comfort.
Teens and kids are some of our best Circle of Hope volunteers. The time they spend with Sleep Tight Kids can be counted toward service projects for school, church, or Scouts.
Our events committee comes out of Circle of Hope as well, planning fêtes like our upcoming August 13 fundraiser at Highland Brewing Company (we’ll reveal more details about this soon, but it will be a family-friendly event with a carnival atmosphere).
Playing a role in the community—no matter how small—can help to break cycles of abuse and give children the hope they need to flourish. Come join us.