Newman Center students create pillowcases for youth in need


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Stacks of colorful pieces of fabric were lined up on a table, women laughed and talked with one another, and the sound of sewing machines hummed in the background.

These students weren’t sewing for themselves or even people they know. Rather, they were creating pillowcases to help domestic-assault victims.

Students from the Newman Catholic Center gathered Wednesday evening to give back to youth who have been victims of domestic assault. This sewing event is part of a larger organization, The Great Pillow Fight, which aims to help youth shelters have a more comforting stay.

This is the first year the Newman Center has been involved in the organization. Lindsey Trotter, the coordinator of the event, knew the creator of The Great Pillow Fight and wanted to bring the outreach to Iowa City.

“My mom’s friend Janna, she started it as a family service thing they did on Thanksgiving,” the UI junior and justice and peace official for the Newman Center said. “They would make the pillowcases to donate to different shelters all over Green Bay [Wisconsin]. We decided to bring it here.”

The students will donate the travel-size pillowcases and pillows to Four Oaks Youth Home, 1916 Waterfront Drive.

The issue of domestic assault is prevalent both locally as well as across the state of Iowa.

In fiscal 2012, 41 calls were made to the Rape Victim Advocacy Program in regards to domestic violence. In Iowa, according to the 2012 domestic violence census released Monday, a reported 737 victims were served in one day.

One director from the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence said although the numbers of domestic violence have risen over the past 20 years, it may still be a positive occurrence.

“Progress is a very slow thing,” said Kirsten Faisal, director of training and technical assistance at the Iowa coalition. “It is becoming more understood by the public, it’s less of a secret. More people are seeking services, there’s a higher percentage of victims receiving services.”

The Rape Victim’s Advocacy Program does not directly assist victims of domestic assault, but executive director Karla Miller said there is a strong correlation between the two.

“Dating and domestic violence issues are based around sexual abuse,” Miller said. “The primary issue is someone who’s abusing them or stalking them. Some of [the victims] have been raped by an intimate partner.”

There are 28 organizations in Iowa aimed to provide assistance to those who have experienced domestic violence.

Miller said the pillows will greatly help children who have been through the trauma of domestic violence.

“The thing is there are so many horrible situations in which [the children] witness,” she said. “To have a pillow and to provide them a feeling of comfort, it’s very helpful.”

Newman Center student sophomore Brett Tracy hopes to achieve this feeling of comfort, and provide something for the children in whatever way they can.

“I think it’s important to show someone cares about them. Even if we don’t know them, to show someone who cares,” she said.

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