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Woman spreads joy with blankets Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Aug 02 2014 12:00 PM

Denise Czer is fortunate enough to have never been a victim of domestic violence.

But that doesn’t mean the Chula Vista resident is blind to it.

She knows the plague of domestic violence exists.

While she can’t stop domestic violence from happening, she is doing what she can to put smiles on faces of children who have experienced domestic violence.

“The children are the real victims,” Czar said

Czer, 54, is the founder of New Start Blankets, a program that provides blankets to shelters for children of domestic violence.

“We started New Start Blankets just to bring a little joy to the children when they checked into the shelters,” she said.

“I wanted them to have something that was brand new to represent a bit of freedom. And it has multi purposes. A blanket brings comfort, warmth and is personal. At a difficult time when they have left everything it gives them a little bit of warmth.”

Her program has grown since it donated a few hundred blankets at the start in 1996. Seventeen years later the organization donates close to 2,000 blankets annually.

But her giving doesn’t end with the blankets.

She uses her company GG-A-GOGO to create an overnight bag that includes a night gown, toiletries, makeup, socks and hair ties.

The overnight bag contains 15 emergency products and is used for victims leaving a domestic violence situation.

“Domestic violence people are fleeing, no matter what they’re background is they are fleeing,” she said. “They leave everything behind so they have nothing. And when you’re starting from nothing the basics are so essential.”

Currently the emergency overnight bag is sold at Corey’s Hallmark in Bonita and at hospital gift shops and on Amazon.com for $27.

A portion of the proceeds goes to domestic violence victims while the rest covers the cost of making the bags.

“I give a lot of blankets but I want to give more money,” she said.

She plans to eventually sell the bags in hotel gift shops and airports.

Eastside Sequel in Chula Vista, a secondhand shop that serves children and South Bay Community Services, also sells the bags, with 100 percent of the proceeds from Eastside Sequel going to domestic violence victims.

Eastlake Sequel sells the emergency overnight bags and in turn gives the money to South Bay Community Services, which serves as a shelter for victims.

Czer said she gives back because it makes her happy.

“Throughout life, if you don’t give back then you don’t feel the joy,” she said.

“That’s where joy comes from — really helping other people,” she said.

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