Since mid-June, two local residents have been kayaking the 500-mile shoreline of Smith Mountain Lake to raise awareness and funds for the Southern Virginia Child Advocacy Center in Rocky Mount. Sue Gallagher and Jane Marvin, who both volunteer as court appointed advocates for neglected or abused children, hope to raise $100,000 to support the center’s programs and operating expenses. With about 100 miles to go as of Friday, they anticipate completing all 500 miles by Labor Day.
“We are on the home stretch but behind in reaching our goal,” said Marvin. “Since the middle of June, we have been kayaking 15 to 20 miles every other day, weather permitting. So far, we have raised $46,500 and are looking to make a big push for more donations in the next two weeks.”
The Southern Virginia Child Advocacy Center provides services for the prevention of child abuse and neglect in Franklin and Pittsylvania counties. Court appointed special advocates (CASA) volunteers work directly with children in need, becoming a safe person for them to talk to. CASA volunteers receive extensive training to learn how to investigate a child’s case and write reports to advise the judge on the child’s best interests and safety.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many more children have been stuck at home with abusive parents or guardians. They are not in school, community centers or libraries where they often have a safe place. With more parents who have lost their jobs or are working from home, tensions run high and sometimes it is the children who suffer. Already, we have seen the number of cases double compared to this time last year and the severity of the abuse is much greater,” said Gallagher.
The duo started and will end their journey at the Smith Mountain Lake community park pier near mile marker R19 across from the state park. There are two ways to donate to help them meet their goal. Supporters may send a check directly to the Southern Virginia Child Advocacy Center at 300 South Main St., Rocky Mount, VA 24151. The other way is to visit the Kayaking Smith Mountain Lake for Kids’ Sake Facebook page, where there is a button to donate in any amount online.
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