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A backpack filled with hope

Members of Southern Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, through their Women in Business Committee, coordinate with local organizations every year, including the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County. Submitted photo.

Members of Southern Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, through their Women in Business Committee, coordinate with local organizations every year, including the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County. Submitted photo.

— One in four women have been a victim of domestic violence, and those impacts can extend to affect an entire family.

In a few weeks, children will be heading back to classrooms, including those whose lives are in turmoil because of domestic violence. One local group is looking to make sure they at least have the tools they need to succeed, though.

Helping children to be ready with everything from pencils to calculators is the Women in Business Committee of the Southern Saratoga County’s Chamber of Commerce. For the last half-decade, they’ve worked with the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County (DVRC) through Backpacks of Hope to fill the need.

“It is the committee’s hope that recipients of the backpacks and baskets will take comfort in knowing there are people in their own community who care and want to help in a very practical way,” said Liz Roggenbuck, member services manager at the chamber, in a statement.

Loretta Rigney, the chamber’s vice president and director of marketing and communication, said the program is a spinoff of the Baskets of Hope initiative, which supplies personal care items to women at DVRC year round.

“It’s a way for the members of our Women in Business Committee to let victims of domestic violence know that people in their own community care about them,” said Rigney.

The Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County provides shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and housing programs to women and children in crisis. They receive 2,000 calls every year from women in need of support.

“The program is tremendous,” said Nagar Hale, the chamber’s director of membership development. “What’s extraordinary about DVRC is that it does cross so many socio-economic lines of every type.”

Around 100 backpacks are filled every year with school supplies collected at dozens of businesses, including H&R Block and Envisions Beauty Salon, as well as the chamber’s office in Clifton Park.

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