EATON — Most 13-year-olds celebrate big for their milestone birthday. Natalee Sutton decided to give big instead.
“For my 13th birthday, I was supposed to go to Great Wolf Lodge, but I can’t because of quarantine,” Sutton explained in a video posted to Facebook that was shared more than 55 times. “Turning 13 is a really big deal for me, so I wanted to do something memorable. I talked to my mom about an idea that I had to do an item drive for the women’s domestic violence shelter.”
Her one idea resulted in an outpouring of support: to date, Sutton has donated more than 500 personal care, stress relief, and clothing items to YWCA Dayton’s Preble County domestic violence shelter.
“I had no idea her donation drive was going to be so generous and impactful,” said Courtney Griffith, director of rural strategy. “We would not be able to provide the critical services we do without the help of our community. Because of donations like these, we can make sure our clients have all the essentials they need to focus on healing and safety.”
Sutton describes herself as a “regular kid:” she loves cheerleading, running, and spending time with friends (and, sure, her little sisters). This donation drive is a true reflection of the heart Preble County has for the YWCA mission, said Volunteer Coordinator Kelsi Martinez, who cited Sutton’s video call-to-action as her favorite part. In it, the teenager described how her mother experienced abuse many years ago.
“Luckily, she had friends; I know that some people aren’t as fortunate,” she said. “I chose the DV shelter because I don’t think their needs get talked about as much as they should. Domestic violence is an issue that needs more attention. I know that I can’t do much, but this is the best thing I can do.”
It’s more than enough, Griffith said. “She really understands what our clients are going through and shows great compassion. I also love how much thought she put into the items in her wish list. She not only included personal hygiene items, but also things that will lift survivors spirits, like makeup, books, and toys.”
Added Martinez, “It breaks my heart to know the reason a 13-year-old girl is so eloquent in getting her message across is because domestic violence has touched her life. But, watching her create a productive outlet and be wildly successful at it, gives me hope that we’re making true strides in our commitment to supporting survivors.”
Inspired to host your own creative donation drive? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you understand our current needs, coordinate drop-offs, and help you spread the word.