Lauren Wilcox, left, and Sandy Kelly of PAVE display an oversized check that represents a $1,000 grant from Verizon Wireless specifically for survivors of
Lauren Wilcox, left, and Sandy Kelly of PAVE display an oversized check that represents a $1,000 grant from Verizon Wireless specifically for survivors of domestic violence to purchase a gift or needed personal item for their children. (Supplied photo)

BENNINGTON -- For the fourth year in a row, a $1,000 grant has been awarded to the Project Against Violent Encounters to benefit the children of survivors of domestic violence.

Verizon Wireless has been giving cash grants to domestic violence organizations since 2001, totaling more than $18 million.

The money PAVE received will be used to purchase gift cards from grocery stores and local retailers in increments of $25 and $50, and handed out throughout the year to those in need at Verizon's request.

"We use these cards to help people get gifts for their children, personal care items or food -- whatever they may need," said Nancy Feinberg, volunteer coordinator for PAVE.

"At Christmastime we have our families sharing their children's needs with us, and other families donating to them as well, it's really great," said Feinberg, of the approximately 14 mothers and 44 children currently being helped by the advocacy service.

PAVE first applied for a grant from Verizon more than six years ago, and received a donation of refurbished cell phones as part of their HopeLine program.

"Somehow we found this grant and we keep applying for it," said Feinberg, of the service which comes with a one year phone activation. "As far as the $1,000 goes I think they just knew about us."

The holiday spirit comes along at the perfect time for the advocacy center. Without applying for the holiday grant directly they are able to provide additional services during a challenging time of the year for many families.

The Verizon HopeLine program typically donates twenty phones to PAVE twice each year, along with 3,000 minutes and 9,000 texts for women and men who are victims of domestic violence to use and feel more secure.

Since starting the program in 2011 Verizon has received more than 10 million used phones and distributed more than 151,000 of them to domestic violence organizations nationwide.

"Every six months or so we renew our request and get 20 new phones. It enables us to provide phones for clients who have no phones, for a little bit more feeling of security," said Feinberg, explaining that many times victims of domestic violence are still being pursued by their assailants.

"They can call the police or the agencies they're working with, or use it for employment purposes."

PAVE also has a housing advocate and an advocate based at the department of corrections to help with a variety of situations.

"In situations where partners [of victims] are either on probation or parole, we're just there if they need our help," said Feinberg. "Any security we can give our clients is our main goal."

Of the giftcards Feinberg said they sometimes last as long as six months before being fully distributed.

"Holiday giving really benefits the kids in need in our area," she said, noting that even the check is noted "For children in need."

To donate or for information on how to get help locally, visit www.pavebennington.org.

For the U. S. National Domestic Violence Hotline call 800-799-7233 (SAFE).

Contact Khynna at kkuprian@benningtonbanner.com and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.