SOMERVILLE, NJ - Business owners in downtown Somerville believe purple will join pink as the “it” colors of October. While many recognize the month’s association with pink because of Breast Cancer Awareness, a growing campaign on behalf of Domestic Violence Awareness in October used the color purple to help spread its message.

The Somerset County Resource Center organized a “Purple Purse” Challenge for the entire month of October. Bridgewater resident Kristin Antonelli and Mallori Seader, co-owners of K Bella Boutique and Gems & Stems Floral & Gift Boutique, respectively, joined the team to organize downtown Somerville businesses to come together to create awareness of domestic abuse and contribute to the Resource Center’s efforts.

The Downtown Somerville Alliance (DSA) also supported the effort. Nearly $700 was contributed to the $5,850 the resource center collected in total.

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Started by the Allstate Foundation, Purple Purse is a public awareness and fundraising campaign aimed at creating long-term safety and security for domestic violence survivors through financial empowerment. The goal is to bring financial abuse out of the shadows so victims can get the healing and support they deserve.

The program has ignited fundraising efforts like those launched in Somerville, as well as hundreds of other national, state and local domestic violence organizations. Funds raised through the Purple Purse Challenge support life-changing financial empowerment services to help domestic violence survivors build safer lives for themselves and their families.

“Veronica Finlay, the keynote speaker at our K Bella Boutique event, gave such amazing insight into all the resources the center provides for the people coming out of abusive relationships, it was truly awe inspiring,” Antonelli said. “We hope to build on this year’s inaugural challenge in Somerville and put together a bigger program next year to turn the town purple for domestic violence.”

“Domestic violence affects one in four women in her lifetime – that’s more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined,” Seader added. “Most people think only of physical abuse when they consider domestic violence, yet financial abuse happens in 98 percent of all domestic violence cases.”

The concept behind the challenge in downtown Somerville was for the purple purse, filled with domestic violence awareness materials, to travel from store to store throughout the month of October. Participating businesses were asked to “host” the purse for one to two days and create some sort of buzz around it, from simply displaying the purse and collecting donations to hosting an event.

Pinot’s Palette kicked things off from Oct. 1 through Oct. 4 by hosting the purse and collecting donations during their reserved and sold out events. The Beauty Bar held a “Kiss for a Cause” promotion. K Bella Boutique hosted a gala party with food, drinks and a raffle on Oct. 15. A $5 donation at the door entitled event participants to a 20 percent discount for the night and tickets were sold for a raffle to win gift baskets, gift certificates and other prizes donated by local businesses.

Other downtown Somerville businesses participating included Gems & Stems, Blue Sheep Bake Shop, Beneath it All, Tropiano’s Jewelry Boutique, Bohdi, Beyond Trends and Melange Boutique.

While the Purple Purse Challenge for Domestic Violence Awareness is still the new kid on the block compared to efforts on behalf of Breast Cancer research and screenings, Beth Anne Macdonald, executive director of the Downtown Somerville Alliance said she was not surprised that local businesses have embraced the cause.

“Our business owners are dedicated to raising awareness, funds and resources on behalf of many causes, like breast cancer and domestic violence, that impact their customers, families and friends,” Macdonald said. “While our restaurants and stores provide world-class dining, shopping and services, their personal involvement and commitment to these issues highlight a small-town sensibility and caring that helps set Somerville apart as a destination in our region.”

For more information about the promotion, other programs and services provided by the Downtown Somerville Alliance or directories of local businesses and restaurants, visit downtownsomerville.com. You can also follow news from Somerville on social media at Facebook.com/DowntownSomervilleAlliance and Instagram.com/DowntownSomerville.