PORTSMOUTH — When a family’s shopping budget is so limited that mom or dad must choose between baby carrots and baby wipes, there’s something wrong.
Fortunately, a church program and local Girl Scouts are working to collect essential baby supplies for low-income families so they’ll still have money left over to put food on the table.
Working on their Bronze award, the girls in Portsmouth Troop 753 have been collecting diapers and other baby needs for The Changing Table Ministry, which was started by a young mother at the United Baptist Church in Newport, Jennifer Mulcahey Tysor.
“She learned from her mother, who does social work, that there were families who were choosing between diapers and food for their kids,” said Caroline Dooley, assistant troop leader.
The girls — all are in the fifth grade and all but one attends Portsmouth Middle School — have been collecting supplies all month by leaving boxes in churches, businesses and community buildings. “The girls had to write and get permission and then they made a box and left it there,” she said.
Last week the troop packaged the products at the church for distribution to the families.
“It’s almost like a goodie bag with diapers and wipes and toiletries. When the families get them, they can call the church for more if they need them,” said Ms. Dooley. “Jenn from the church has already heard from families who had seen the collection boxes and called her for help.”
Many of the supplies go to Lucy’s Hearth, an emergency and transitional shelter for mothers and their children who are homeless. “Last year we did our cookie sale and the girls decided to give the cookies that people wanted to buy but didn’t want to eat to Lucy’s Hearth. They really liked the people there and decided to work with them,” said Ms. Dooley.
There’s also a need closer to home.
“When the girls were at Hathaway School, the social worker there told them there were local families who could use these supplies, too,” she said. “You sometimes don’t realize that there are people in Portsmouth who need these things.”
The troop is still collecting items and have left boxes at the following places until May 8: Portsmouth Free Public Library, Hathaway Elementary School, Stage Door Dance, St Anthony’s Church, St Barnabas Church, St. Mary’s Church, Ernie’s Karate Studio, Island Day Care, Portsmouth Family Dental in Portsmouth; Extensions Dance Studio in Bristol; and Spalon in Middletown.
The Changing Table Ministry has distributed 12,000 diapers to date. For more information, contact United Baptist Church in Newport at 847-3210 or [email protected]