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Fundraiser set to help ‘Safe Harbor’

Area residents are invited to participate in “Cruisin’ da Lake,” a new fundraiser on Saturday, June 20, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to benefit the Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Program.

Bring your family and friends along in your classic car, truck, or “soccer mom” van to one of seven designated stops along Lake Pontchartrain to purchase a $20 “stamp card,” and then begin the cruise in your vehicle to collect an additional stamp at each stop. You are free to move at your own pace and enjoy a meal, frozen drinks, the arts, and more at the stops. Participants who gather at least five stamps at the end of the day will be entered into drawings for $100 prize giveaways. A special prize will be given to the best-decorated vehicle.

This new style fundraiser comes at an important time for Safe Harbor, which has seen a spike in domestic violence cases and requests for services at a time when its more traditional fundraising gatherings are uncertain. Current state restrictions governing the current COVID-19 pandemic limit the number of people in a room for social gatherings. The total number of calls to Safe Harbor increased 118 percent between February and May of this year. The number of adults and children for whom the agency is providing shelter has jumped 125 percent.

“While national and local leaders encouraged us to stay home to flatten the curve, we know that home is not safe for many women and children,” said Kimberly Kirby, Executive Director of Safe Harbor. “Abusers may use the pandemic as a way to increase their abusive behavior because they think victims cannot leave.”

Safe Harbor had to reconfigure its space to maintain social distancing, which reduced its shelter capacity by half. The program is using hotels as alternative shelter, which has been costly.

District Attorney Warren Montgomery, a sponsor for the fundraiser, said his office also saw a 32 percent increase in domestic violence cases in May, compared to the same time frame last year.

“Safe Harbor needs our support now more than ever to be able to continue protecting the most vulnerable in our community,” Montgomery said. “Unfortunately, while the needs are so great, Safe Harbor’s traditional methods of raising funds are uncertain because of the limits on social gatherings. But the event on Saturday is a fun way to provide much-needed help.”

The seven stops along the cruise are: Laketown in Kenner; Bec’s At The Lake, 105 Gary Road, Laplace; Revival Art House, 495 SW Rail Road Ave., Ponchatoula; Mystic Detailing, 487 SW Railroad Ave., Ponchatoula; Abita Roasting Co.,504 Water St., Madisonville; Barley Oak, 2101 Lakeshore Dr., Mandeville; Castaway’s Daiquiris, 3000 Pontchartrain Dr., Slidell; La Maison Du Lac, 7412 Lakeshore Dr., New Orleans.

Participants can start and stop at any of the locations and travel to as many of the stops as they would like between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Volunteers will be waiting at each stop to stamp cards, which can be turned in at any stop for the prize drawings. The cash awards are sponsored by organizers Getzit Garage, Swamp Stomp Car Show and fameagency. All proceeds from the $20 donations will go directly to Safe Harbor.

For more information, call 985-232-2155.