By Rachel Hickingbotham
Ten years ago, a group of mums were visiting their local Maternal and Child Health Centre on Chapel Street, St Kilda and noticed baby goods stacked high in the photocopying room that had been kindly donated by local parents in the area.
One of the mums, who is now the CEO, Jessica Macpherson, saw that help was needed to get the generous donations to families who needed them. She volunteered to sort, launder and package the preloved items.
“What started as small seed of community goodwill has grown rapidly over the past decade. St Kilda Mums quickly grew from a weekly working bee held in my living room to a thriving operation, consisting of over 3,000 volunteers today”, says Jessica,
In 2019, St Kilda Mums moved their headquarters to Clayton after outgrowing the space in St Kilda. The new Clayton premises is three times bigger which allows the charity to support more families than ever before.
In 2018 alone, the organisation re-homed more than 59,000 nursery items to 20,400 babies and children. This is a staggering $7.3 million worth of goods.
St Kilda Mums is now striving to St Kilda support even more families and are asking Melbourne families to get behind them.
There are three ways you can support a family right now:
For $126, St Kilda Mums provides everything a family needs to welcome their baby home from the hospital. They can achieve this generous package due to donations or good, financial support and incredible volunteer contribution and a lot of hard work. The bundle of goods is dependent on what the family needs but could include a cot, pram, car seat, bouncer, breast pump, change mat, toiletries, nappies, wipes, clothing and linen, books, toys and any other essentials from an extensive list.
Consider chatting with your kids this year about donating some money as a family and choosing something specific to donate. You can choose items from the St Kilda Mums website such as a years’ worth of good quality clothes for $56 or a new cot, mattress and bedding for $217.
Give a little time or give a lot. St Kilda Mums has made volunteering easy for busy people wanting to lend a hand. You can even book a volunteer session for you and your children. Bring your kids into help out with a staff member over the school holidays.
Year 9 students and older can attend with their classmates and teacher. During special sessions, they will learn about the need for safe prams and warm clothing. They also learn about some of the causes of disadvantage of the people St Kilda Mums help. Students assist with cleaning and safety checking items such as prams, highchairs and car seats. They also help sorting and packing clothing and toys as well as preparing special toiletry packs for mums and babies.
Some things are best given brand new, like underwear. Next time you are stocking up for your kids, consider grabbing some extra undies for a child in need. St Kilda Mums are always in great need of new underwear and socks up to a child’s size 12. The also have the constant need for newborn nappies and baby wipes.
If your child would like to choose some of their belongings to donate, encourage them to choose good quality, gently used items that they themselves would be happy to receive.
“The presentation of the goods is very important, we only want to rehome items that we would be comfortable receiving for our own children”, says Jessica. This has become a key value at St Kilda Mums.
Jessica suggest the following ideas for kids who want to donate:
- Mindfully choose books and toys: Pick items that are still usable. Make sure books are not ripped and toys are working and clean.
- Check jigsaw puzzles: Go through puzzles before they are donated and make sure all the pieces are intact. Then wrap it up in a ribbon with a note saying that the puzzle has been checked.
- Go through stationary: Children can sort through coloured pencils they no longer need, sharpen them and bundle them into a colour collection for another child. Consider filling a pencil case with toddler scissors they have outgrown and other surplus items from their school year.
A kind note with your donation is also a thoughtful touch.
“The important work being done by St Kilda Mums does not stop, even at Christmas. If anything, it’s busier than usual. However, the funding we need to continue helping families in need sometimes runs very low which is why we need the community’s support”, says CEO Jessica MacPherson.
Consider making a donation as we get closer to Easter and Mother’s Day. These special days, including Christmas can be very difficult for mothers doing it tough.
“Making a monetary donation that will provide essential nursery equipment, given with a message of support, will bring so much relief to families in crisis at this time of year. Sadly, it may be the only gift they receive”.
Please go to www.stkildamums.org for more information or to make a donation.