The Haven in Lee County Domestic Violence Shelter hosted their 15th annual No Scare Fair, Saturday, at the Stevens Center in Sanford, North Carolina. The fair provides kids and Families with a safe place to trick or treat and is the Haven’s largest fundraising event every year.
For the last three years, Company B, 5th Military Information Support Operations Battalion (Airborne) has volunteered to help with the fair. Originally, the event was used as a way for the company to give back to the community.
“This event is about community, respect and bringing awareness,” said Kristina Choiniere, Co. B, 5th MISB Family Readiness Group leader. “Three years ago we were looking for a community service event to just kind of get our companies out in the community.”
As a result, Co. B has been volunteering their time the day before the fair, helping to set up tables, blow up balloons and arrange Halloween decorations. Soldiers use their personal vehicles to go to Core-Mark International in Sanford to pick up boxes containing 45,850 pieces of donated candy for the Families that will be trick or treating.
This year, the battalion decided to use the community service event as a way to educate Soldiers about Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention.
SHARP is a required annual course for Soldiers, and usually involves class time with a Power Point presentation. Encouraged by the 8th Mission Information Support Group command team to implement SHARP training in a more creative way, Co. B extended an invitation to the rest of the battalion to volunteer at the domestic violence shelter and turn the community service event into a SHARP event.
“Our main goal was to come up with more creative ways for people to understand SHARP. Part of SHARP isn’t just knowing what sexual assault and harassment is, but preventative measures and changing the culture. So that’s what we are trying to do, come up with more creative ways to get people involved that’s more than just a Power Point. So this is a good way to give back to the community and show what we are all about in the Army and as a unit as well,” said Capt. Melissa Stetson, the 5th MISB’s sexual assault response coordinator.
During lunch, Haven employees talked to the Soldiers about what they do at the shelter, statistics on who uses the shelter, and a demonstration on how they help victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. After the Soldiers finished volunteering, they met back at the battalion headquarters to review everything they learned throughout the day.
“Soldiers and civilians can bring awareness and get involved in the shelter because a lot of spouses on Fort Bragg end up using the shelter. We didn’t know how many used it until they told us,” Choiniere said.
The Haven in Lee County started the No Scare Fair in 2001. Originally called “Haven House,” the fair began as a fundraiser for the shelter and has grown every year since.
“The theme of it is there is nothing scary. There are no clowns, there are no vampires, this is just a great way for kids who may be intimidated to come and enjoy Halloween,” said Kym Smith, one of the organizers of the event and vice chair of Haven’s Board of Directors.
The fair is broken into six, hour and a half sessions throughout the day, with 330 people attending each session. Tickets went on sale a month before the event and were sold at $5 per person.
“We were sold out three days before the event,” Smith said. “That’s never happened before.”
The money raised from the No Scare Fair goes to benefit the Haven shelter, but a small portion of funds goes to Family Promise of Lee County to help homeless Families in the area.