Faculty, staff and students gathered between the walls of the Augusta Arsenal on Tuesday evening as Georgia Regents University and SafeHomes kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a tree-lighting ceremony and donation drive.
The Purple Light Night ceremony is the first of six university events in October that shine light – a purple light – on domestic violence, both locally and nationally, said Allison Foley, an
associate professor of criminal justice at Georgia Regents.
“The overall goal of the month is to raise awareness of domestic violence and to educate people on the lesser-known parts of it, and to provide victims and survivors with a voice,” she said.
Two cardboard boxes decorated with purple wrapping paper were filled with used cell phones and other household items to be donated to the local SafeHomes shelter.
Ruthie Garcia, the public relations and volunteer coordinator at SafeHomes, said the donations go a long way in helping the victims of domestic violence.
“It’s so often that (domestic violence victims) leave everything behind,” she said. “We don’t want to just house them and put them back out there.
“We want to give them the tools and the things they need to be independent and self-sufficient.”
Once the sun had set, Foley and Garcia addressed the small crowd before turning the attention to a large tree with purple ribbons draped around its base. Moments later, the tree lit up in the same purple worn by the event’s volunteers.
Foley said the purple lights are a nod to the official color of domestic violence awareness month.
The tree will remain lit for the rest of the month.
One of the volunteers, senior sociology major Bryson Taylor, said the campaign has already left an impression on him.
“There are a lot of aspects of victimization that people don’t know about,” he said. “You can really broaden your knowledge by attending these events. I know it has for me.”