Sweet support

SOLE FOOD: Proceeds from sales of special milk and dark-chocolate high-heeled shoes at the Chocolate Fetish this month benefit area victims of domestic violence.
SOLE FOOD: Proceeds from sales of special milk and dark-chocolate high-heeled shoes at the Chocolate Fetish this month benefit area victims of domestic violence.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in an effort to raise money for Helpmate, a local nonprofit dedicated to serving women and children in Buncombe County, the Chocolate Fetish in downtown Asheville presents a simple and delicious notion: artisan high-heeled shoes crafted from milk and dark chocolate.

All proceeds from the chocolate shoes, each accented with a purple ribbon, will benefit Helpmate. Established in 1978, the nonprofit provides emergency shelter for victims of violence, a 24-hour support hotline, counseling services, court advocacy, and preventative and educational information on domestic violence. According to Helpmate's website, "nearly 1/3 of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives."

Helpmate has worked to empower victims of domestic violence while striving to "eliminate abuse and fear.” As of June 30, 2013, it has served 1,869 clients and sheltered 96 women and 64 children.  

The Chocolate Fetish began its partnership with Helpmate in 2005. "We wanted to focus our charitable giving [on] one organization so that we could make a significant impact," says Elizabeth Foley, general manager at Chocolate Fetish. 

"We choose Helpmate for a variety of reasons. It seemed like a good fit to work with an organization that focused mostly on women, since the majority of our customers are women. We also wanted to work with an organization that was local, so we could keep the money in our local economy. [We also chose] Helpmate because our owner Sue [Foley] has volunteered with similar organizations throughout her life and wanted to continue contributing to this cause. In the last couple years, this cause has become particularly personal for Sue and I, as we have both known people that have used Helpmate's services, including one former employee."

In addition to the October high-heel special, the Chocolate Fetish offers a "Helpmate Box" available throughout the year; all proceeds go directly to Helpmate. Staffers also participate in a gift exchange for women and children at Helpmate's crisis shelter.

"We're always thinking of ways we can give back to our community," says Elizabeth, "and since we work with Helpmate year-round it was a natural progression to donate the proceeds from the shoes to Helpmate." This month, supporting an invaluable community nonprofit never tasted so sweet.

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About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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