COVINGTON, Ga. — Purses, diapers and more filled two rooms at the Historic Courthouse after more than 100 walkers did their part to bring some supplies for victims and awareness to the problem of domestic violence Saturday on the Covington Square.
"Walk a Mile in their Shoes" encouraged participants to walk a mile — eight times around the perimeter of the park in the middle of Square — in support of victims on the day before the close of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.
The event, organized by the Newton County Domestic Violence Task Force, also encouraged walkers to wear purple — the color commonly used in support of those killed or injured by someone they formerly loved and trusted.
District Attorney Randy McGinley was among those who took Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes' challenge to try to walk the mile-long course in women's shoes to support the effort to benefit Project Renewal.
Organizers asked for donations of clothes, diapers, toiletries and other items victims could use immediately rather than money — though some cash was given, said Project ReNeWal director Ashley Dykes.
"I am just extremely thankful for the community," Dykes said. "It was a great way to end Domestic Violence Awareness Month."
Other elected officials who participated or were present for the event included Sheriff Ezell Brown, Superior Court Judge Cheveda McCamy and County Commissioner Alana Sanders.
Members of the Eastside and Newton high schools' football teams walked, as did Victims Services Director Leslie Smith and Victim Advocate Shay Payne of the Newton County DA's Office; and Assistant District Attorney Lacey Majors and Investigator Aimee Oliver of the Walton County DA's Office.
Task Force event director Nwaka Hughes and co-chairs Debbie Hillman and Latonja Hamp helped lead “Walk a Mile.”
Hillman gave information and statistics about Saturday’s event and the issue of domestic violence to the crowd of walkers and onlookers.
Donors included Covington Trolley Tours, in addition to registered sponsors Dewindt Legal Services, Shekinah Counseling, PR Parties by Erica, Lindsey Firm, LRC Promotions, Police Who Care, Piedmont Newton & Women’s Services, Newton County NAACP, KNCB, She Ministries, and Newton High School and Eastside High School football, Hamp said.
Other registered sponsors included Rockdale-Newton NCNW; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Chi Tau Omega and Conyers/Covington chapters; Top Ladies of Distinction Inc. NewRock Chapter; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Conyers/Covington Chapter; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Conyers/Covington; and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Conyers/Covington Alumni Chapter.
Banes and retired Judge Samuel Ozburn formed the Newton County Domestic Violence Task Force in 2018.
Project ReNeWal is a domestic violence intervention program that has operated since 1995 and serves Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties.
Dykes and Project ReNeWal shelter director Lauri Reeder and board member Aimee Oliver also were among participants Saturday.
The nonprofit operates an emergency shelter for victims, in addition to a 24-hour crisis line and intervention services, including providing food, temporary shelter, clothing and transportation for domestic violence victims and their families.
It also offers services — such as peer support groups and job placement — which can assure victims they are capable of living without their abusers, Dykes said.
For more information, call 770-860-1666 or visit https://projectrenewalgeorgia.com.