Evan Martin walked around a table with his father, Nathan, going station-to-station collecting hygiene products and putting them in a compact box. That box would soon go to a single mother in metro Atlanta, providing her with at least temporary relief by checking off a few items from a lengthy list of needs.

Nathan and Evan were two of roughly 100 volunteers stuffing care packages at Helping Mamas headquarters in Norcross on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Some volunteers packed children’s clothes, others packed diapers.

Helping Mamas was founded by Jamie Lackey, a social worker by profession, in 2014. Helping Mamas is a baby bank, the only nonprofit organization in Georgia that focuses solely on providing baby supplies. Helping Mamas also provides maternity clothes and feminine products, but primarily distributes items to children from birth to age 12.

In every kit there were 50 diapers, plus there were makeup, hygiene and self-care kits for moms. Other volunteers were making toddler birthday bags that included a toy, a book and a hygiene item. The rest were sorting the bank’s stock of clothing.

The Martins were part of a volunteer contingent from Coca-Cola. Their group was assigned to wrap diapers, but Nathan and Evan Martin were reassigned to packing hygiene kits.

“Our room was full,” Nathan Martin said.

Lackey social and nonprofit work spans about 20 years. She said she noticed a gap in services while supervising parenting programs. The stories she heard shocked her.

“Hearing the horror stories of moms using plastic bags as diapers or reusing disposable diapers for 24 hours at a time, I just kept thinking, ‘We have to be able to do better than this; there has to be a better solution,’” she said.

Lackey said Helping Mamas serves 30,000 per year. Helping Mamas is a staff of four that hosts regular volunteers throughout the week, but was more productive on Martin Luther King Day with the help of corporate volunteers from Coca-Cola, the Sage Foundation and Lawrenceville Cub Scout pack 1510.

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Taylor Denman is a reporter born and raised in Gwinnett County. He came back home to seize the rare opportunity of telling stories about the county in which he grew up.

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