Grateful moms loaded with bags of baby care items exit South Grandville (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church one afternoon a month.
Angelica finds things she needs for her baby and three-year-old.
The church runs a baby pantry, and each young woman who comes can choose items from tables loaded with diapers, wipes, baby food, laundry detergent, and children’s clothing.
Mellissa, mother of a seven-month-old, would be close to desperation without the pantry. “My husband lost his job,” she said. “I need help to get diapers and baby supplies, and I rely on this place. I feel a lot more secure with the help.”
“I’m broke,” said Aticia, who has two children, ages eight and three. “The people who run this are really kind.”
Veronica, who has a three-year-old and is expecting a baby, said she needs infant clothing and products. “Our family doesn’t qualify for any other assistance.”
All have been screened for need through United Community Outreach Ministries, a Wyoming, Mich., nonprofit alliance for social outreach supported by 50 local churches and other sources. They must show their qualification slips before being admitted to the baby pantry.
Codirector Judy Wolters said about 135 women visit on pantry days, when about 4,000 diapers are dispensed. Foods geared to babies and children are purchased for 16 cents a pound from Feeding America, a nationwide food bank network.
Sunday school children decorate baby shirts and donate other items. South Grandville Christian School children hold baby showers and deliver those gifts to the church, while area churches take offerings for the ministry. Apparel comes from garage sales and clothing drives.
Recipients receive are treated with respect by 12 volunteers who guide them through the basement rooms. “We try to use their first name,” Wolters said.
Pantry cofounder Theresa Meyer, 80, still acts as a guide. “[The mothers] love their kids. The children are always clean and look so happy when we give them a book.”