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Images of domestic violence are all too common in this country — the battered spouse, the broken home, the psychological torment.

But what about the smaller details that still have a profoundly negative effect on victims’ lives and their families? Like having to leave their homes in the middle of the night with nothing but a few belongings?

Sadly, victims fleeing from domestic violence often escape dangerous homes with little or no time to pack, leaving behind things as important as their children’s school supplies or without the financial means to provide them. As a result, children are left unprepared and feeling insecure about the academic year ahead.

That’s why local Florida Allstate agency owners took a stand this August with their #ChangingLives back-to-school donation drive. The result of an ongoing collaboration between The Allstate Foundation and the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV), 10 local Allstate agency owners helped provide school supplies, uniforms, and backpacks to children currently living in these centers.

Over the course of the two week #ChangingLives donation drive, the 10 Allstate Agencies raised enough supplies to outfit over 50 children for the upcoming school year, while The Allstate Foundation donated $15,000 to local certified domestic violence centers.

And while the children benefited from the generous outpouring of donations (some coming from as far as New York), it was the Allstate agents who felt equally blessed.

“I loved seeing their smiles, the happiness on their little faces and the excitement to pick and choose the book bag they loved the most from the choices they had,” recalls Lisette Sanchez, a Pembroke Pines Allstate agent. “One child who stayed on my mind was a boy who was very shy, about 10 or 11 years old, and didn't want to lift his head and didn't want to take anything. I joked with him and tried to make him laugh (but he didn’t). To my surprise, he came back to me with a smile and asked me if his sister could have some glasses.”

It was a feeling of fulfillment, of giving back, echoed by all of Lisette’s fellow agents.

“As someone who experienced domestic violence at a tender age, being able to give back was an absolute delight,” said Angela Shepherd, also of Pembroke Pines. “I felt such a sense of warmth and appreciation for our efforts. But it was truly our honor.”

In addition to the back-to-school drive, the #ChangingLives project also served to bring together local Allstate agents with the certified centers in their area as a part of a comprehensive economic justice project, Changing Lives: A Collaboration between Florida Allstate Agents and Domestic Violence Centers. By partnering with FCADV, Allstate’s Florida region convened a Statewide Advisory Team to help create plans for increasing financial literacy, economic justice opportunities for domestic violence survivors, and promoting activities and projects that engage Allstate agents as strong partners within their communities.

“Abusers often use finances as a tactic to control or trap survivors in abusive relationships. Therefore, centers offer programs that promote financial independence to help survivors be less dependent on abusive partners which can ultimately provide the means to leave and live independently,” said Angela Diaz-Vidaillet, President and CEO of The Lodge, a Miami area domestic violence center.

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