New Vancouver non-profit offering free baby gear for needy families

Her daughter had diarrhea but the mother could only afford to change her baby's disposable diaper twice a day.

Other mothers put their children to bed in strollers because they didn't have enough money to purchase a crib.

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Those are just two of the stories that prompted Dunbar mother Jennifer Randall Nelson to start a non-profit called BabyGoRound to meet the needs of poor families with children up to age four.

BabyGoRound will open its doors Oct. 23 at Face the World House at 2939 Kingsway near Rupert Street. The volunteer-run non-profit will supply families who are referred to the organization with essentials that include cribs, strollers and onesies.

Randall Nelson expects to mainly help single mothers who may be disconnected from the fathers of their children, their own families or friends who couldn't afford to buy them baby gifts.

"Most people, when they announce that they're going to have a baby, many of their friends gather to give them a baby shower and they're given gifts," Randall Nelson said. "A lot of these women, nobody's giving them a baby shower and there's no opportunity to get anything new."

Twenty per cent of families in B.C. are headed by single mothers and half live in poverty; for single mothers aged 25 and younger the proportion living in poverty is 90 per cent. Randall Nelson says the average cost of buying all the basic equipment a newborn baby needs is around $2,200.

This mother of three found there was no agency in Vancouver nor the province that was specifically organized to accept and redistribute baby gear when she wanted to give hers away. But social service agencies she consulted told her the need for necessities was great.

So she enlisted partners that include Face The World Foundation, the YWCA Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health to create what she says is the first free baby gear redistribution centre in Canada.

Starting next week, families who need assistance can be referred to BabyGoRound by social service organizations or apply to be referred.

Caregivers will be given an appointment to visit what's been set up as a free-of-charge "store" where they can choose needed items.

Vancouverites who want to ease parents' burdens can drop off donations Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and on some Saturday afternoons. Randall Nelson requested that no one abandon donations outside beyond these times.

BabyGoRound is also seeking volunteers to staff its office and store.

"It's so important to realize that we're all mothers, we're all trying to do our best, we're all trying to supply the goods and services our children need to have a healthy life," Randall Nelson said. "We hope that these mothers who are going to be beneficiaries of the goods will in turn bring them back and pass them on to somebody else so it's creating this circle, and that's why we came up with the [name] BabyGoRound."

For more information, see babygoround.ca.

crossi@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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