A woman escaping a nightmare of abuse at home shouldn’t have to worry about buying children’s school supplies, a group of Saratoga County businesswomen believe.
That’s why the members of the Women in Business Committee at the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County want to collect enough school supplies to fill 100 youth backpacks and present them to the children of domestic violence victims.
Called Backpacks of Hope, the packs hold crayons and glue sticks for youngsters and calculators and college-ruled notebooks for high-schoolers, said Liz Roggenbuck, member services manager at the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County. They go to children of women who are served through Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County.
And children choose which backpack they want, which makes the effort especially fun for them, said DVRC Executive Director Maggie Fronk. “They get to pick out the special one that’s just for them,” she said. “We always spend some time with them and talk with them about why they picked that one.
“Mom isn’t part of that decision; the kid gets to pick their own backpack.”
Many women who flee abusive situations must leave clothing, toys and personal possessions at home, she said, so children who come into the shelter during the school year get backpacks as well.
“There can be such guilt about having left at that point,” she said. “[Backpacks of Hope] takes some of those worries away.”
DVRC, which serves all of Saratoga County, typically gives away all 100 backpacks by the end of the year, Roggenbuck said, illustrating how the problem of domestic violence is more prevalent than some people may think. “It’s kind of sobering how many people are touched by domestic violence,” she said.
The Women in Business Committee holds seminars for its more than 60 members on various business topics, and the members decided in 2007 they wanted to give to charity. They picked domestic violence as their cause and now do three separate initiatives: the backpacks; Baskets of Hope, which gives women entering the domestic violence shelter a collection of toiletries year-round; and New Beginnings, which in January collects household supplies for women who are moving from the shelter into their own apartment.
Since 2007, the committee has filled 3,000 baskets and it expects to have filled 500 backpacks by the end of this summer’s campaign.