A recent service project by the Aiken Lions Club is helping address cases of human trafficking and domestic violence recovery that is affecting the CSRA.
The club has recently donated a slew of household supplies for the GLM2 Foundation Inc., a nonprofit that provides longterm aftercare services for women who have been affected by sex trafficking and domestic violence, and for their children, in the CSRA.
GLM2 stands for God Loves Me, Too, according to the foundation's website.
The supplies will be given to 15 women and 20 children who are rebuilding their lives by finding housing, jobs, and stability for their families during their recovery.
The inspiration to assist with this issue came after the founder of the GLM2 Foundation, Kimberly Walden, spoke at one of the Aiken Lions Club meetings in January for human trafficking awareness month.
Shortly after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Aiken and stifled the club members' ability to continue with their community service projects.
However, the club picked up its efforts in mid-July and teamed up with Vintage Music Store on Park Avenue to act as a central location to drop off donations for the 35 people under GLM2's care.
In specially marked boxes inside the store, Aiken Lions Club members and Aiken residents were able to drop off supplies such as laundry detergent, dryer sheets, paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes and even gift cards for the families.
A week later, the club had connected enough donations to fill the back of Walden's car, a feat she was extremely touched by, she said.
"It's overwhelming, but in a good way because it really makes my heart smile," Walden said. "With all the negativity that you hear about all over the place, you have people who say, 'I want to help,' and all I can say is thank you for that."
The box for supplies will remain at Vintage Music Store "indefinitely," said owner Sally Woodward, allowing residents to drop off supplies for as long as they are needed.
Woodward said she was grateful she could assist the GLM2 Foundation Inc., and that she could further assist her community.
"We're part of this community, and it takes a village," Woodward said.
A peek into Aiken Lions Club
The Aiken Lions Club is a branch of the Lions Club International that has over 48,000 Lions clubs around the world, according to the official Lions Club website.
The Aiken Lions Club, which meets in the evening, often works on various projects with the Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club, a separate club that is in the same district, said Susan Selden, Aiken Lions Club president.
The supplies donated to the GLM2 Foundation is just one of the club's community service projects that they jump into upon request.
"We wanted to come up with something different we knew we could do without risking the health of our members," Selden said. "[GLM2 Foundation Inc.] is a new organization for us, so I asked [Kimberly Walden] what we can do, and she gave us a list."
One of the club's continuous objectives is assisting individuals with sight/hearing problems, and working with other organizations such as Area Churches Together Serving (ACTS) to identify qualified individuals to help cover some of the costs associated with doctor examinations and eyeglasses/hearing aids.
The club usually offers this service for the children of Aiken's elementary schools, but following the Aiken County School Board decision to postpone the first day of school to Aug. 31, the club will hold off doing the project until they are given the OK to pick it back up.
"We have a Lions Club member that is staying in touch with the school board to find out when we can go in again," Selden said.
For those who would like assistance with vision and hearing aid needs, a step-by-step instruction guide for Aiken residents is available on the club's website. Residents outside of Aiken should call 1-866-325-4667 for possible assistance from other S.C. Lions Clubs.
The club was recently awarded a grant from the Lions Club International for new vision equipment that will assist with the club's project.