A Gwinnett-based organization is trying to be a source of support for struggling mothers with young children, when some need its assistance now more than ever.
As people lose their jobs and schools and daycares close amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Norcross-based nonprofit is trying to relieve the burden of finding baby supplies for metro-Atlanta families.
Helping Mamas refers to itself as a baby supply bank. It was founded by Jamie Lackey in 2014 and focuses solely on providing baby supplies. Helping Mamas also provides maternity clothes and feminine products, but primarily distributes items for children ranging from newborn to 12-years old.
Since responses to the coronavirus pandemic has led to businesses shutting down, the week has been a whirlwind, Lackey said. While Helping Mamas is still open and serving people through references from social workers, she’s the only staff in her office. She’s in contact with social workers from more than 100 partnering agencies around the city and trying to gather donations while their community drop-off locations are closed.
Social workers are sending requests, Lackey collects items, then she places them outside the door to be picked up with social distance.
“As long as the social workers and agencies are open, we’re operating and getting them what they need,” Lackey said.
Lackey said the only items people are requesting from Helping Mamas are diapers, wipes and menstrual products, which are scarce in grocery stores. She said it’s been difficult to gather these items since the organization is no longer accepting community donations at its eight donation drop-off sites. The only donations Helping Mamas is receiving are through corporate donations or its Amazon wish list.
Lackey said she’s hearing stories daily from social workers that access to affordable diapers is scarce in stores and they’re forced to make the choice to forgo diapers if they’re not working or unable to without childcare.
“I talked with one social worker that has a family with a newborn due any day now, and they were struggling to buy diapers anyway, but she tried to go out and none are available,” Lackey said.
Usually there is a team of people at Helping Mama’s headquarters, but now Lackey has taken sole control over the logistics of the nonprofit. Lackey said she’s had to cancel 10 to 15 volunteer days since the pandemic has grown more serious in the United States. She’s not able to focus on fundraising and administration, but she’s doing all she can to try to meet the community’s needs.
“Really right now, the crisis is trying to get these diapers out,” Lackey said. “We’re seeing folks and social workers requesting them in larger quantities, because they don’t know how long they’re going to be working or if people will be told to shelter in place. There seems to be a shortage on the shelves.”
Lackey said, even when restrictions are lifted and the world tries to recover from the damage the pandemic has caused, people will need more help than ever.
“We want our moms that we’re serving to be able to stay home and stay healthy without stressing,” Lackey said. “That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing and doing it safely.”