DALLAS -- Hundreds of letters leaving Polk County mailboxes are carrying a child artist's simple yet powerful plea to stop domestic violence.
Hundreds of thousands of letters mailed throughout the nation also bear the U.S. Postal Service's special semipostal stamp of blue, yellow and purple crayon.
But there are letters being sent to the Dallas Post Office that will become treasures for collectors who save special and unique postmarks.
The Sable House Station special cancellation postmark, as it is known by U.S. Postal Service, is making a statement against domestic violence. At the request of Dallas Postmaster Morrie Bart, Pearl Gallery Director Jenica VanDyke designed the cancellation.
It has been placed on every item received at the Dallas Post Office from collectors around the country requesting them on their mailed in letters and cards since the special semipostal stamp's debut Oct. 11.
The project was launched after Bart approached Sable House of Polk County with the idea of doing something unique for the local domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organization to build on the semipostastamp's momentum.
From there, the project snowballed, culminating in a Stop Family Violence stamp dedication amid a standing room only gathering at the Pearl Gallery Oct. 11. To date, local sales of the special stamp cachet envelopes and plaques commemorating the dedication have raised more than $400 for Sable House operations.
"We encourage everyone to purchase and use the Stop Family Violence stamp on their cards and letters," Bart said, adding that because of the "tremendous response," there will be an additional day that the postmark will be offered to the public via the gallery.
The on-site opportunity will be from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13, at the gallery at 115 SE Court St. in Dallas. The gallery and its art classes are a program of Sable House.
A collector's special cachet envelope designed by the gallery featuring the postmark and stamp will be available for a $2 donation to Sable House. A sample display and order forms also will be available for the plaque that was created and presented at the stamp dedication to speakers and civic leaders.
The special cancellation postmark is planned to be available from the Dallas Post Office, via mailed in request, until Dec. 12.
The Stop Family Violence semipostal stamp is the third semipostal in U.S. history. The first semipostal -- the Breast Cancer Research stamp -- was issued in 1998. The Heroes of 2001 semipostal was issued in 2002 in honor of those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
For the newest stamp's design, the USPS selected artwork by a young girl that expresses the pain and sadness that domestic violence causes children and families. The stamp features her picture of a crying child raising her arms in the air. It reads, "Stop Family Violence," in yellow, and has the look of a chalk or crayon drawing.
"The Postal Service has a proud tradition of issuing stamps to help raise awareness of social issues," said Donna Peak, controller and vice president of finance for the U.S. Postal service. "The Stop Family Violence stamp takes this wonderful tradition a step further by providing funds for a worthy cause."
"The fact that the Dallas post office wanted to do this is just super," said Sable House Executive Director Deborah Thompson, who expressed her thanks to all who have purchased the stamps and the special commemorative items.
Sable House's vision of ending domestic violence was met with enthusiastic support at the stamp's Oct. 11 dedication, which featured speakers and civic leaders who know how domestic violence effects individuals, families, communities and businesses.
Creating public awareness, supporting education and zero tolerance while providing hope and help to those in domestic violence situations was the collective message.
Those sharing their thoughts and efforts in addition to Bart and Thompson were: Penny Cox, Pearl program coordinator; State Rep. Lane Shetterly; Marilee Spitsnogle, Area IV manager of post office operations; Roseann Kendall, Interim V.P. Student Affairs, Western Oregon University, Polk County Sheriff's Sgt. Nathan Goldberg representing the Polk Multi-Disciplinary Team on Child Abuse; LaVonne Wilson, representing the City of Dallas; and June Dodge representing Polk County Commissioner Ron Dodge.
"We commend the Postal Service for helping to raise awareness and funds to stop family violence," said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. "The Stop Family Violence stamps send the powerful message that our society will not tolerate abuse. The stamps will help bring this issue into the open, encourage discussions about abuse and let victims know that they are not alone."
While time is running short to secure a copy of the local cancellation, the stamps are scheduled to remain on sale through Dec. 31, 2006. They're available at post offices nationwide and at www.usps.com/shop