WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Victim’s Assistance Center in Watertown has one special employee with four legs, a wagging tail, and a huge closet of donations for those in need.
The dog’s name is Emelia and her campaign is helping victims of domestic abuse.
Emelia’s Closet stocks up on basic necessities that a person might need when leaving an abusive situation.
Items include toys, clothes and hygiene products.
“When you’re leaving a crisis situation, you’re not going to have time to pack your child a bag. You’re not going to have time to pack a hygiene bag because your safety is of the utmost importance. So when people come here and shop for what they need, it provides them with support and alleviates stress for them,” said Madelaine Taylor, VAC development director.
The initiative caught the eye of Miss Pride of New York’s Outstanding Teen, Anna Spaulding, who has spent the last several months collecting hundreds of donations.
“This closet is great because it’s a stigma-free zone. We don’t ask questions, we’re just here to help them get to the next step in their life,” she said.
Officials say there has been an extraordinary need for these donations as the pandemic has skyrocketed the number of domestic abuse cases over the past year.
Helping the organization can be as little as picking up an extra hygiene product at the store or as big as getting an extra air mattress or crib to donate.
“Simple things mean a lot to people that are in that situation. That’s what it’s all about, to make a safe house and help a person regroup and regrow and start a new chapter in their life,” said Dawn Burdette, VAC volunteer.
Organizations that have helped make this initiative possible include City of Refuge Church in Carthage, Happy Period North Country, and Women Listen to Women.
If you want to donate, you can call the VAC at 315-755-1434.