Inspired by her role as Detective Benson on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," Mariska Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation to help abused women and children.
For over a decade, her charity has helped survivors to heal and empowered them with the tools to overcome.
"Trauma doesn't really go away unless you work at it. What I kept hearing in letters from victims, from people disclosing their pain, was not dissimilar to my own feelings," Mariska has said.
Now a decade after Joyful Hearts was founded, Mariska teamed up with KIND nutrition bars to help children of abuse. The two organizations got together to chip in and package healing kits for children currently seeking shelter at Safe Horizon's Manhattan Child Advocacy Center.
"We all have a role to play in supporting survivors and preventing abuse," the actress revealed to Healthy Hollywood.
Mariska and her "SVU" co-stars Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino spent part of Monday afternoon putting together kindness kits packed with books, school essentials, backpacks and other goodies for kids who have been physically or sexually abused.
Prior to Monday's event, Mariska and KIND launched a campaign to encourage others to lend their support to a parent or caregiver - offer a helping hand, prepare a meal together or simply ask how they're doing. It's important for everyone - young and old - to remember kindness is an easy gift to pass along. Plus, it's sure to put a big smile on the face of those who receive it.
"Research shows that parents and caregivers with strong social connections are less likely to abuse or neglect their children. That's why creating strong networks is so important," adds Mariska.
To pass on the act of kindness, check out www.kindmovement.com.
-- Terri MacLeod
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