Delaware County jurors not only perform a civic duty, but many help disadvantaged children by donating their stipend to one of several charities that help children in need.
The Delaware County Juror Donation Program was founded by Gerald C. Montella, Esq., Delaware County Court Administrator. Through the program, jurors volunteer all or part of the $9-a-day stipend to one of five charities. Since the program started in March 2003, the Juror Donation Program has donated over $800,000 (as if March 2016) to assist disadvantaged children in Delaware County.
In 2010, the program even extended its reach to send aid to Haitian children impacted by the devastating earthquake that hit the island. The Haitian effort was a one-time campaign in response to a devastating event and resulted in a $6,130 donation to UNICEF to help Haitian children who were injured or orphaned as a result of the quake.
Delaware County jurors can regularly opt to donate their stipend to the following organizaitons:
CASA/Youth Advocates, Inc. - CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a non-profit organization that trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in Delaware County. Each year, hundreds of Delaware County children are placed under protection of the Dependency Court because of abuse or neglect. CASA provides Court appointed special advocates to facilitate safe, permanent, and timely placements for abused and neglected children. As of March 2016, donations to CASA/Youth Advocated have totaled $40,000.
Children Youth Services (CYS) - Children and Youth Services include Child Protective Services, service to children in their own home, Child Welfare Day Care, Child Sexual Abuse, and Independent Living for adolescents transitioning out of foster care. The funds donated to the Citizens' Advisory Committee of Children and Youth Services will enable abused and neglected children to participate in summer camp programs, experience the joy of the holiday season, and attend post-secondary education programs as they transition out of foster care. As of March 2016, donations to Children and Youth Services have totaled $339,500.
Domestic Abuse Project - The Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County, Inc. is a private human service agency providing services to women and children throughout Delaware County who have experienced domestic violence. Children (infants-17 years old) are served at the emergency shelter and in the Agency's transitional housing programs operated for women and their children made homeless by domestic violence. Funds donated support the children's program including counseling, support groups, safety, enrichment, education programs, and activities for children. As of March 2016, donations to the Domestic Abuse Project have totaled $188,000.
Hero Scholarship Fund - The Hero Scholarship Fund was originated in 1977 by Delaware County Council to honor Police and Firefighters who have died in the line of duty. The Fund was authorized by Council to award scholarships to the children of Police and Firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty. As of March 2016, donations to the Hero Scholarship have totaled $170,000.
Operation Warm - Operation Warm is a local non-profit organization which provides brand new winter coats for at-risk children who live in Delaware County. Operation Warm works to enhance the self-esteem of disadvantaged children by providing new winter coats; thereby promoting a positive self image. Children in need are identified through local social service agencies and schools. Operation Warm truly warms the hearts of children. As of March 2016, donations to Operation Warm have totaled $68,000.
Donors receive a certificate of gratitude.
Jerry Montella acknowledged the efforts of Jerry O'Conor and Otto Zittarreli of the County's IT Department for making the computer revisions needed to keep track of the donations. Montella also acknowledged Nancy Alkins, Jury Administrator, and her staff for accepting the added responsibility to manage the program. The program was started with the hope of raising $1,000 the first year.
"A thousand dollars was donated the first month and at that point, I knew we had something special," said Montella. "The program is strictly voluntary. Donors also have the option of donating only a portion of their stipend. We simply advise the jurors about the program when they come in. There's no pressure placed on the juror to donate their stipend. It's a great opportunity for a juror to both perform their civic duty and help a child who needs assistance. I am very proud of the program and hope that it continues to help kids who need support. I'd like to thank the thousands of jurors for their generosity. Our jurors can be confident that their donations will be money well spent."