LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - On average, 40 people a month will walk through the doors of Harold's House looking to find a safe place.
"Averaging 40 people a month, that's a big number," said Angelina Girls All-Star Coach Kirsten Hines. "I didn't think it was that big, so I'm just glad there is a place for those kids to come."
Harold's House is named after former Lufkin Police Lt. Harold Cottle. Cottle was involved with the advocates across Angelina County in prosecuting people who abused children. Last year Harold's house saw 391 victim's of sexual or physical abuse. Ashley Cook said that number has grown over the years, but she added she does not believe abuse is on the rise.
"I think people are becoming less and less afraid to talk about it as we begin to work to promote prevention and as we begin to remove the shame," Cook said.
With a full case load, the staff at Harold's House uses a variety of services ranging from an onsite sexual assault nurse to an interview room and a family room created to make victims feel safe. Cook said Harold's House has become one of the biggest allies to law enforcement in the area.
The girls that were able to make it out to a special tour of the Lufkin facility shared a special connection to the group. many of them expressed the urge to enter a career path that would work alongside Harold's House.
"I know a lot of sexually abused kids will come here for things like that, and I want to help out with that because I see a lot of kids that go through that," Lufkin student said Brittany Taylor, a Lufkin ISD student.
"She said most of the parents came through here, and most of them were on drugs, so I want to help prevent that," said Sasha Reppond, a Huntington ISD student. "I want to stop that."
The annual Pineywoods Showdown game will feature boys and girls from Angelina and Nacogdoches schools. The games will be played on April 20. The girls game starts at 6 p.m. with the boys following. All proceeds from the games will go to the charity of the winning team's choosing.