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Helping hands

School helps out with city's victim support services

Some New Westminster Secondary School students have sewn up a good deed for those in need.

Rebecca Maurer, a member of the New Westminster police board, is the board's liaison to New Westminster Victim Assistance.

Learning that the emergency kits provided by Victims Assistance are packaged in transparent baggies that offered no privacy, Maurer contacted the high school about having home economics students sew opaque bags so they had some privacy.

"The school has been so amazing," she said. "These students have done it themselves. They jumped at the opportunity."

Students in Karen Harbick's home-ec classes sewed small bags that will hold assorted toiletries. The bags are given to victims, including women fleeing domestic violence and people who have been evacuated from their homes because of fire.

"They would have nothing with them," Maurer said. "They would be supplied with a bag of toiletries. It's to get them through a few days."

Cheryl Meyers, manager of Victims Assistance at the New Westminster Police Department, said the kits contain items such as toothbrushes, shaving cream and deodorant. She noted that Victims Assistance collects toiletries for men and women who have to leave their homes and belongings in a crisis situation.

"We have been sending them off with the personal items in a little baggie," she said. "They have nowhere to put anything."

Meyers was thrilled that students at New Westminster Secondary School supported the project. The students recently presented their creations to Victims Assistance representatives.

"It's fabulous. They are sturdy, they are washable, they are reusable," Meyers said. "It's a nice thing for the school to do."

New Westminster Victims Assistance, a charitable organization, provides a variety of support services including on-site crisis and trauma response, emotional support.

Volunteers and staff in the victims services unit work in liaison with the New Westminster Victim Assistance Association, under the operational direction of the police department.

Harbick said students from Grade 9 to 12 sewed about 20 bags for the association and will be sewing more in the future.

In addition to sewing bags for Victims Assistance, Harbick's students have also sewn bags in the past for Lord Kelvin Elementary School and other sewing projects for the community are in the works.

"It's social responsibility and giving back," she said. "We are in a position to do these things. I think it is really good for kids."

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