CLEVELAND — When we think of homeless shelters and safe homes, we often think of food and clothing donations.
Oftentimes, the undergarments go overlooked.
It’s why Doniella Ligon started W.I.N. (Women In Need) Ministries a few years ago.
Ligon took her two children and ran away from an abusive home — and ran to a women’s shelter with only the clothes on their backs.
When she arrived, she was given used underwear.
She said that moment made her feel even worse.
“Worse than coming in there, because I was already at a very low place,” Ligon said.
So after she got her life back together, she said she wanted to find a way to give back.
Over the last several years, WIN Ministries has donated thousand of care packages to women in Northeast Ohio through partnerships with local shelters.
The packages are wrapped like beautiful gifts and inside, there are five bras and 14 pairs of underwear — all brand-new.
“What makes you feel any better than a new pair of panties and a new bra to put on? Take a hot shower. Even at your lowest moment, it makes you feel better,” said Kaye Gaines, one of WIN Ministries board members.
Denise Cunningham-Doggett is the housing stabilization specialist at Norma Herr Women’s Shelter in Cleveland, which is operated by the YWCA. At any given time, the 200-bed shelter is at or over capacity.
She said she has seen firsthand what an impact the thoughtful care packages have on women.
“It’s very meaningful to have things in place. You don’t think it means a lot, but it does to a person who is homeless,” Cunningham-Doggett said.
WIN Ministries is a community-driven project. There are donation boxes set up around Cleveland where folks can donate new bras and underwear. A list of drop-off locations can be found here.
You can also make a monetary donation here or volunteer to put together care packages.
This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.