Red collection cans that are set out at several local businesses are aimed at giving women the tools they need to protect themselves should they find themselves in a threatening situation.

Searsport Police Officer Jessica Danielson is a Rape Aggression Defense Systems instructor, and she is certified to teach basic physical defense. The nationwide program, commonly known as R.A.D., teaches women how to stave off potential attackers using simple and easy-to-employ techniques, Danielson said.

The R.A.D. systems offer several different types of self-defense certifications — one is for teaching self-defense techniques to children, while another teaches women how to employ pepper spray as a self-defense tool. Overall, R.A.D. instructors in all areas of training work under the belief that self-defense should be easy to learn, easy to remember and most importantly, easy to use.

And anyone who participates in a R.A.D. course gets a free lifetime return and practice invitation anywhere that a R.A.D. class is offered.

While Danielson has the certification she needs, and the help she may need from other R.A.D. instructors in the area, she lacks the funding necessary to buy the equipment.

Danielson said it costs between $3,000 and $5,000 to get the program up and running, and a state law prevents her from seeking out potential donors in the community.

“Police officers can’t solicit funds,” she said.

Enter Patty Provost, proprietor of Captain Shorty’s Restaurant, who has come to be known as a local warrior in the battle to end domestic violence in her community. In October, which is nationally known as Domestic Violence Awareness month, she offered her customers a free 10-inch cheese pizza in exchange for donating old cell phones that would be distributed to women who are living in dangerous situations. That effort resulted in the collection of 52 phones, which Provost turned over to the Searsport Police Department.

“I had no idea just how severe of a problem domestic violence was here in Searsport until Jessica [Danielson] spoke with us about it,” said Provost.

Provost said when she learned of Danielson’s interest in starting a R.A.D. course locally, she wanted to find a way to help. The answer was the red collection cans, which are now set up at Captain Shorty’s, Tozier’s Family Market, at the Irving and Mobile stations and at Angler’s Restaurant. Provost said Hamilton Marine had also made a donation to the cause.

Because the courses are set up to include a scholarship program, no woman who wants to take the class will be denied access because she can’t afford to cover the tuition fee, which pays for the instruction books.

That’s why Provost wants to raise $5,000.

“That way anybody will be able to take the class, and there will be no question about whether or not someone has the money,” she said.

Provost is spearheading the collection effort for the local businesses, and anyone who wishes to make a donation, or to participate in the fund drive can contact her at the restaurant at 548-2020. Interested people are also invited to drop by and see Provost during Captain Shorty’s new hours of operation. Beginning Saturday, Jan. 30 the business will be open for breakfast from 7 a.m.-10 a.m. and for lunch from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Sunday Captain Shorty’s will open from 7 a.m.-11 a.m. and re-open for lunch from noon to 4 p.m. The restaurant will be closed Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday through Friday the doors will open from 5:30 -10 a.m. and for lunch from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information about R.A.D., contact Danielson at 548-2304 or visit rad-systems.com.