The Zonta Club of Bradford collected items Tuesday for different service projects. Pictured are wrapped gifts for The ELF Fund’s Christmas gift program, along with collected food for a project where Zontians will donate to the Friendship Table and local food pantries this holiday season. On Wednesday, the Club will begin its 16 Days of Activism campaign, too.

The Zonta Club of Bradford invites the community along as it advocates for women’s rights during its 16 Days of Activism campaign.

The campaign begins Wednesday — Domestic Violence Awareness Day — and ends on Human Rights Day on Dec. 11.

Local Zontian Lisa Chapman talked about the importance of the annual campaign, which launched in 2012.

“Violence against women is the most pervasive human rights violation. It knows no national or cultural barriers; happens at home, school, in both public and private places,” Chapman shared. “It may consist of psychological, sexual, or physical abuse often manifested by rape, trafficking, assault, child marriage and in some countries, genital mutilation.”

She said that the Bradford Chapter will run an informative Facebook campaign for those 16 days.

“Each day we will post an interesting anecdote, video, or quote from a local person, Zonta member, or fact resource,” Chapman explained. “For instance, on opening day we announce our campaign and invite all in the community to shine an orange porch light to symbolize support for ending violence against women. Subsequent posts will speak to this goal or any of our mission’s goals from people who work closely with this problem.

“Of particular interest is the impact the pandemic has produced,” she added.

Chapman explained that officers from local departments will talk about the recent increase in domestic violence during the pandemic. Also set to share is St. Marys City Councilwoman Margie Brown, who will talk about the importance of having female representatives in government.

The community can show their support by sharing the Zonta Club of Bradford’s daily posts so they can reach as many people as possible. Search for the “Zonta Club of Bradford, Pennsylvania” Facebook page to find the group’s posts.

The Bradford Zontians reached out to the community in another way, too: by sending letters to a number of local service organizations and church groups inviting them “to donate articles to restock the shelves of the YWCA’s Victims’ Resource Center.” Each group was invited to donate 16 hygiene items, for instance, 16 bars of soap.

The Victims’ Resource Center provides services to local victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault and their families.

She indicated that asking each group to donate 16 items can mean hundreds of items total to help the YWCA.

“It’s a tremendous haul of basic needs to have on the shelves for the people that might need their help,” Chapman said.

Chapman noted the Bradford club is not an isolated group — it is part of a group of women around the world with a common mission who have worked for over a century to empower women.

In fact, Zonta International was founded in nearby Buffalo, N.Y., and is now in its 101st year, she said. The Bradford chapter was founded in 1954.

“Our mission includes: advocating for an end to violence against women, ending child marriage, fighting for gender equality, and equal opportunities in education,” Chapman relayed.

Locally, Bradford Zonta is currently working on another local service project: donating gifts for The Era’s Less Fortunate (ELF) Fund. Each year, Zontians purchase gifts for The ELF Fund’s Christmas gift program. Since they couldn’t wrap the gifts together due to the risk of COVID-19, they simply wrapped the gifts at home before collecting them in one place to be taken to The ELF Fund’s collection center.

Zonta is also collecting food items to be donated this holiday season to the Friendship Table and local food pantries.

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