Every family that comes to us has a unique story — there are so many factors that can bring someone to the place of needing to reach out for the kind of help we provide. Some are single mothers, others are families new to Canada who may have left everything behind, or at times those living in shelters and fleeing harmful situations. We see these families and know small parts of their stories every day that we operate and carefully select items to help them safely care for their little ones. We are so often humbled, and often brought to tears, by the part we have to play in helping to usher in a new chapter of these stories. Across Canada, children make up a significant percentage of the population living in poverty and within that, the highest incidence is for children under 1 year old. Coming alongside families during this incredibly foundational time, with so many new stressors, can be life-altering for a family and for their sweet babe.
The message we wish to convey to our families — at every level of interaction — is that they are seen, validated and have worth.
In order for us to achieve this, it is incredibly important that the items we provide are of good condition and quality. Our goal is to provide practical help for the family by alleviating the financial burden of purchasing thousands of dollars in baby gear, but also to show dignity, respect and compassion in an effort to instil hope and provide encouragement. Here’s where we need to stop and take a few minutes to have a conversation, even though it feels a little uncomfortable for us. Far too often, we unfortunately receive items that are just not acceptable to send home with families. These are items that are ripped, stained, cracked, dirty, missing parts and unable to operate. If we were to give anyone we knew something that, by all reasonable standards, would be considered garbage, the message we would be sending to that person is that we consider them — the human being — to be garbage too. No person deserves to be treated this way. Sometimes, with a lot of time and elbow grease, we can salvage some of these items. Sometimes, we just can’t. The reality is that, not only does it take up a lot of time to sort these items only to finally find out something is broken or missing parts, but it can also be incredibly discouraging to us as a team. Giving our time and resources to cleaning and disposing of unfit baby gear is really something that we would love to redirect to working with our referral agencies or with families seeking our support. We love that one of the byproducts of our work is that so much potential waste is diverted from the landfill, so it is especially disheartening for us to have to make these trips, not to mention costly. To put it simply, we just cannot afford to be anyone’s alternative to a trip to the dump, or to be regularly repairing items at the level we currently are. We care way too much about the families we support, and providing them with an excellent program to not say anything about this challenge.
We choose to believe that no one is intentionally dropping off items that are, for lack of a better description, garbage. Which is why we wanted to have this conversation — we feel it’s just that important. And we get it! We all have moments of starting off with hearts in the right place and somewhere along the road, start to wander off track a little. We want to use this opportunity to redirect focus to the goal of providing essential baby gear that is clean and in good condition to vulnerable and under resourced families. Your donations are what make this possible and we, quite literally, could not do it without you! Would you partner with us by being extra conscientious about gear cleanliness and condition?
To make things easy when you’re thinking of donating something, we’ve compiled a checklist of things to consider before dropping items off!
Thank you for joining us in this work and striving to treat all families with dignity, respect and compassion by thoughtfully preparing your donations! We know life is busy and we so appreciate you taking the time to prepare these items to go into someone else’s home and be used to care for their sweet little one.