WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County’ has been supporting North Country residents impacted by domestic violence for over 40 years. But running the only shelter in Jefferson County, in 2020, they saw a year unlike any others.

According to the VAC’s Development Director Madelaine Taylor, calls to the center increased 249% within the first six months of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“We just finished our statistics and we served almost 800 more people in 2020 compared to 2019,” shared Taylor. “And we served almost 300 more children. So the numbers are really astounding and we foresee that when children go back to school full time, we’ll probably see more children [at the center] because we have to remember children have not been around mandated reporters.”

As the need for the VAC’s services continues to rise, the Center recently launched a new campaign to help raise unlimited funds titled the 100 campaign; asking 100 supporters to donate $1,000 throughout 2021. Two weeks in, the campaign is almost a quarter of the way to its goal. 

For the campaign specifically, the VAC is pushing creativity. Hoping to engage individuals, businesses and even school-age children through not only writing a check, but through charity events, bake sales and more. 

One of the reasons why people have gravitated towards it so much is they can get creative with  how the funds are raised, because we realize not everyone can write a check for a thousand dollars,”  stated Taylor.

Adding, ““We have had some people write a $1,000 check, but we have girl Scouts asking for donations; we have a local business who has a menu item, and if you purchase that item, a portion of the proceeds come back to us; we’ve had people who sell products such as ‘Thirty-One’ bags, giving a portion of proceeds back to us. We really have the full spectrum of how people are raising funds for this initiative.”

Ultimately, the VAC stressed that community support for this initiative is more important than ever.

“This whole campaign came about because we had to cancel two in person events. So once again, going back to that creative gene, we were like, how can we raise unrestricted funds in a way that keeps everyone in our community safe, because it’d be irresponsible to hold a large in-person gathering. We’re really grateful that we were able to come up with this great campaign,” concluded Taylor.

To become a pledge of the Victim’s Assistance Center of Jefferson County’s 100 Campaign, supporters are asked to fill out a sheet and contact Madelaine Taylor at 315-755-1434.