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The annual Community Baby Shower Donation Drive, hosted by Project Babies in partnership with WISC-TV/ Channel 3000, kicked off this Monday and Project Babies Director Jeanne Erickson says that the number of struggling families she sees and the need is especially high this year.

“It’s really difficult to see what some of these families are going through,” she tells Madison365. Project Babies is a local non-profit that provides information and activities that enable families to become proactive in their children’s health and well being. “The circumstances and the stories that the families are sharing with us are pretty heartbreaking.”

“Project Babies has been in existence since 2006 and the numbers, this year, have really gone up for requests,” she continues. “We’ve been tracking these numbers for over a decade and we really know what’s going on with our families and we really think that this past year has been the highest degree of change in the number of families who are requesting assistance.”

Sponsors for the Community Baby Shower Donation Drive also include Veridian Homes and Associated Physicians. “All this week, you can drop off baby items at both of those places,” Erickson says. “Items can be dropped off at the Associated Physicians Clinic on 4401 Regent Street and Veridian Homes on 6801 South Towne Dr.”

The mission of Project Babies is to make families confident in their parenting by utilizing community resources that support them in creating a stable nurturing environments that will ensure the development of a secure sense of competence within their environments for their children. This is an important drive for Project Babies, as the need for support to families is already high. They’ve seen an increase in the number of calls they receive daily.

“Within a 36-hour period yesterday I had five text messages for strollers and other items and I had three women who were giving birth who were in need of things to be able to take their babies home,” Erickson says. “The need for items is just really high right now.”

Erickson says she sees a lot of women and families struggling with basic choices of food, rent, health care, or baby items. The donations will go a long way to put their minds at ease.

Jeanne Erickson (left) and Betty Banks, co-founder of Project Babies

“It makes a huge difference,” Erickson says. “When a family knows that they can call us and we’re not going to ask a whole lot of questions – because we don’t – other than: What do you need? Where do you live? And how can I get them to you? It’s a big relief.

“They don’t have to worry about choosing between diapers and eating,” she adds. “We hope it eliminates some of that stress. We know it does because the families tell us. When we have that stress relieved from the moms and the dads and the caregivers that means that the environment of stress is less for the babies and the toddlers and the children … and that’s what makes the difference. We have to be able to change the environment we’re living in and eliminating this stress on our children. That’s the least we should be doing as a community.”

What exactly does the Community Baby Shower Donation Drive need?

“We are really looking for just about everything,” Erickson says. “This year, specifically, we are looking for clothing items that can be worn in the transition of seasons – between the end of summer, fall, and into winter – because part of this drive will go to the Fall Baby Shower that will be held in November.”

Recently, Project Babies hosted a Spring Baby Shower where they helped out over 56 guests and delivered gifts to an additional 20 families.

Erickson says that something new they are looking for this year are lactation supplies. “Our needs with Project Babies have gone up but the referrals that are being made to the African American Breastfeeding Alliance in Harambe Village have also really gone up,” Erickson says. “We’re looking for breastfeeding covers, nursing pads, milk storage bottles … just to name a few lactation supplies we could really use.”

Big baby needs also include diapers and wipes, sippy cups, toiletry articles, baby body wash and shampoo. “We need things to keep stocked on our shelves because we have five baby closets in the area,” she says. “Pretty much anything babies need.”

Along with restocking Project Babies’ inventory, the Community Baby Shower will stock those baby closets across the Madison area located at local library branches and at The Beacon Day Resource Shelter for those experiencing homelessness.

“The one thing that would be absolute gold right now if we could get single strollers,” Erickson says. “I have no more left in my storage and I have five requests for single strollers that I can’t currently fill. They don’t have to be brand new, but they should be in good, used condition. Maybe people have them in their garages and they are not using them and could be dusted off a bit. We really need strollers right now. That would be gold.

“And if anybody has any double-strollers … those would be double-gold!” Erickson adds, laughing. “That would be awesome. That’s something we really need.”

For more information about the Community Baby Shower, please feel free to contact Jeanne Erickson, Director of Project Babies Jeanne Leccia Erickson, by phone or text at 608-770-9588, or email at outreach@projectbabies.org

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.

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