With a nearly full shelter and an unusually large amount of children, the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma is seeking ways to help kids relieve stress and anxiety.
Director Kathy Manning said the shelter is taking donations to help implement activities like ‘Sundaes on Sunday’ where children will be provided with different types of ice cream and various toppings.
However, the shelter is also looking to help children get engaged with social activities outside the shelter such as Urban Air, the movie theater or escape rooms.
“We have what we have and every once in a while we’ll get to add a little something new,” Manning said. “But getting them out to different places to have a little fun and to take their mind off of what it is that’s going on is such a welcome gift for them.”
There are currently 16 individuals and seven children, ages two and up, in the shelter— all of which are taking shelter from abusive situations, Manning said. Typically the children are secondary victims to abuse and have witnessed a parent or family member being abused.
However, many of the children currently residing at the shelter have experienced abuse first-hand, Manning said. “Unfortunately we are seeing it to where the kids in shelter have been victimized as well.”
Families typically stay at the shelter for around 45 days and sometimes longer based on individualized need, Manning said. Activities organized by the shelter’s child advocate help remove their anxiety, raise their self esteem and provide them with some peace.
“We don’t want them to feel like they’re in this environment that is totally removed from their home,” Manning said. “It’s just something that is so important. Kids need to be kids. They don’t need to have to focus on adult issues and so anytime that we can relieve some of that we definitely want to.”
Manning said individuals can drop donations off Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the shelter’s administration office, located at 402 Pawnee St. in Ardmore.
Monetary donations towards children’s activities can also be made on the shelter’s website, at https://familyshelterofsouthernok.net/donate.
“We appreciate everyone who donates to our agency and helps us with this,” Manning said. “It definitely takes a community and the community support has just been nothing but generous, so we really appreciate it.”