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Baskets bring hope to struggling women

For five years, women in Southern Saratoga have been collecting backpacks, school supplies and everyday personal care items for Baskets of Hope, a program to support women and families who have been victims of domestic abuse and are staying at the Domestic Violence Shelter, a product of Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County.

"So often, coming in after a crisis, they never thought they [women] would suddenly end up homeless and they're worried about their children, cat or dog and what tomorrow's going to bring. The last thing they're thinking about is themselves and this is a little reminder to care about yourself too," said Maggie Fonk, executive director of domestic violence and rape crisis services of Saratoga County.

When the Southern Saratoga Women in Business Committee was originally formed, its members were eager to find a community service initiative they could really get behind and devote their energy to, said Liz Roggenbuck, manager of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga member services. She said Baskets of Hope feeds into the members' business vision while allowing them to give back in a way that's important to them.

"Everyone was immediately drawn to it [supporting the shelter] and there was a lot of engagement. I think the women really appreciate the opportunity, with their busy business lives, to give back to other women less fortunate," said Roggenbuck. "It keeps growing and donations keep coming in; they have really taken it to heart."

Members of the committee encourage the community to donate women's personal care items like soap, shampoo and toothpaste, which are assembled into more than 350 gift baskets/bags each year and given to victims entering the shelter. Backpacks and school supplies collected through the summer support children staying at the shelter. Roggenbuck said the women hope the recipients take comfort in knowing there are people in their own community who care and want to help.

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