BLOOMINGTON -- The Salvation Army hosted a party Sunday evening, and the presence of men was neither required nor desired.

About 25 girls and women over 14 played bingo, made crafts and enjoyed snacks at the Women's Day event.

"We had a lot of fun," said Michelle Sokal of Bloomington, 20, who attended the party with her friend and her friend's mother-in-law.

"We did a lot of cool stuff, and we got to spend some time with family."

Nurses from Asta Care Center of Bloomington provided health screenings, including blood pressure checks.

"Everybody needs to be pampered once in a while," said Josey Langhoff, admissions counselor at Midwest College of Cosmetology, who handed out certificates for free haircuts at the college.

The Salvation Army currently hosts a Ladies' Night every month in which women over 14 meet and take part in activities, and the men of the church entertain any children the ladies' need them to supervise.

"We're hoping to touch the community," said Capt. Jolinda Shelbourn, director of women's ministries for the Salvation Army in McLean County.

"Women are working, teaching, raising their kids, and they need some time away, and we provide that. Sometimes, they just want something clean, free and fun that they can do with their families. We are trying to uphold women in society and let them know that there is a lot of good things they can do together or without anyone else."

The event was held at Safe Harbor Shelter, 601 W. Washington St., which has been open since April. The former building at 212 Roosevelt St. stopped admitting women in 2005 citing the lead-based paint which posed a health hazard for children. Shelbourn said the current shelter houses 38 men and usually houses 10 to 12 women.

Shelbourn said she intends to hold similar Women's Day events once or twice a year.

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