Giving Back: Helping Moms-to-Be and Newborns in Need
Here are some great motherhood-related charities dedicated to creating positive change in the lives of women and children—locally, in other parts of our country, and around the globe. Find a cause and get involved!
Kenya’s Abandoned Baby Center
Every 60 seconds, 23 children die from malnutrition, violence, and preventable diseases. In countries ravaged by war, extreme poverty, famine, and epidemics of disease, it truly is a fight just to stay alive.
The Abandoned Baby Center in Nairobi, Kenya, an off-shoot of Feed the Children charity, feeds and houses some of the many thousands of Kenyan babies orphaned each year—their parents lost to AIDS, widespread violence, and poverty. Many babies are barely alive when they arrive at the center and most come without a name or even a known birthday. Staffed with medical and child-development professionals, the innovative five-acre facility has its own medical center and numerous playrooms and care cottages to help babies recover, grow and thrive.
Infante Sano (Healthy Infant)
Infante Sano currently serves families living in impoverished regions of the Dominican Republic. Through monetary and medical donations and collaborations with US-based health groups, the organization works with local hospitals to provide new technology and training opportunities for prenatal healthcare workers. Infante Sano runs several community-based prenatal and parenting education programs in some of the poorest neighborhoods.
Infante Sano hopes to reduce newborn mortality rates in the area by the year 2015. Get involved by donating to the “Sponsor a Clean Birth” program. For $25 you’ll provide a clean, hygienically-safe birth for one baby born in the Dominican Republic (for $300 you can sponsor one birth per month for an entire year).
Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE)
A leading charitable organization in the fight to stem the tide of global poverty, CARE helps women living in the world’s poorest nations, creating community-based efforts to provide basic education, medical care, increased access to food, clean water and sanitation, and expanded economic opportunity.
A donation to CARE might fund a class for women on HIV/AIDS prevention, become part of a grant to help women start businesses in their local communities, and give women in famine-stricken areas the ability to feed their children and families.
Mothers Acting Up
Created by four mothers disturbed by grim statistics about children’s well-being around the world, Mothers Acting Up (MAU) is a grassroots advocacy group founded on the belief that when mothers join forces, they posses the singularly most powerful political voice to speak out on behalf of children. Through regional chapter meetings, letter writing campaigns, and Reclaiming Mother’s Day (a day of awareness-raising rallies held in communities nationwide), MAU intends to inspire millions of mothers to demand improvements in the lives of children everywhere.
Since 2002, MAU has grown to have active members in 49 states and 23 countries. Donations are welcome or check the MAU website to participate in your local chapter.
March of Dimes
The next time you swallow a folic acid-fortified prenatal vitamin, thank March of Dimes for playing a central role in discovering folic acid’s protective effect against spina bifida and other neural tube birth defects. The March of Dimes is dedicated to preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Researchers, volunteers, educators, outreach workers and advocates band together to give all babies a fighting chance at a healthy life.
Donations to March of Dimes fund ongoing research, support education programs for pregnant women, and help build neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). To raise money for March of Dimes, take part in the annual March of Dimes March for Babies charity fundraiser walk or check out Stork Tunes, a new CD of soothing music by Norah Jones, Celine Dion, Dixie Chicks, and other top artists. (All proceeds from the sale of the CD will benefit March of Dimes programs.)
National Association of Mothers’ Centers (NAMC)
Motherhood can be the most rewarding—and undervalued—job in the world. The NAMC provides low-income mothers with advice, community, and access to other local aid resources. NAMC also lobbies lawmakers for policy change on behalf of these women.
The organization began when a Long Island social worker saw how so many of her clients were struggling, financially and emotionally, to raise families. In the early 1970s she began a support group for 40 mothers with the hope of making life a little easier.
There are now more than 30 Mothers’ Centers throughout the US. Donations to NAMC support the operating budget of these centers; fund conferences and community outreach events about parenting, maternal health, child development, and work-life balance; and assist in bringing motherhood-related issues to the center of public-policy discussions.
International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN)
The ICAN was formed over 25 years ago with the dual purposes of educating the general population about the risks of Cesarean section and helping women who did deliver via C-section to have healthy lives and healthy future births. Committed to raising public awareness in support of such issues as vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC), ICAN works with hospitals and other health organizations to spread the word about alternative post-Cesarean birth options. Local ICAN support chapters operate nationwide, providing a safe place for women to share experiences, access resources, and make changes in their local birthing communities.
Continue ICAN’s work through monetary donations, writing letters to maternal health policy makers, and joining and supporting your local ICAN chapter.
Newborns in Need (NIN)
Love to sew, knit, or crochet? Newborns in Need is a nationwide organization dedicated to providing handmade clothes, blankets, booties, hats, and other basics to impoverished and low-income families here in the United States. Local NIN chapters coordinate work meetings, sew-ins, and other volunteer efforts.
Completed items are donated to hospitals, clinics, and homeless shelters, and are then distributed free of charge to needy recipients. In 2007, Newborns in Need distributed over 557,970 items nationwide.
If you don’t knit but would still like to help, NIN accepts store-bought clothing for distribution as well as cash donations.
Care Wear is another organization dedicated to providing handmade baby supplies to needy families, with a special emphasis on sewing and knitting clothing, hats, blankets, and booties for premature babies. Care Wear volunteers make items according to patterns found on the organization’s website. Visit the Care Wear website for a list of hospitals nationwide that distribute Care Wear items. (Volunteers can drop off items or mail them to the contact person listed.) Not crafty but still want to take part? Care Wear accepts store-bought clothing for distribution as well as cash donations.
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)
You make it for free, but donated breast milk is a priceless gift for premature babies and other newborns in medical need of mother’s milk. Preemies need breast milk’s rich nutrients and disease-fighting protection to grow. Breast milk is also beneficial for babies who fail to thrive, can’t digest formula, and those with allergies. Sometimes for health or medical reasons, nursing your own baby just isn’t possible. For these moms, donated milk is the next best option.
If you’d like to donate milk, you’ll undergo health screening and blood testing before your milk is accepted. HMBANA provides detailed instructions, and contact information for milk banks in the US and Canada.
To see your milk do good around the globe, take part in The Breast Milk Project, a milk donor program providing breast milk to AIDS orphans in Africa.
CJ Foundation for SIDS
Dedicated to educating families about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and supporting those affected by SIDS, the CJ Foundation was founded in 1994 by two parents in memory of their daughter, Carly Jenna, who died from SIDS in 1993. The CJ Foundation now provides millions of dollars nationwide towards SIDS research projects, bereavement and counseling services, public education, and SIDS prevention awareness campaigns.
Support the CJ Foundation by buying a CJ wristband (with the slogan, “Face Up to Wake Up”), take part in a CJ charity sporting event or fundraiser walk, or make a cash donation. Families can also sponsor a tree in the Remembrance Forest, a one-acre nature preserve located within New Jersey’s Ridgewood State Park.
National Share Office (NSO)
Parents who have ever lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or health complications after birth know the devastation and heartbreak that accompany this tragic event. The National Share Office, a non-denominational advocacy organization for families grieving pregnancy or infant loss, provides such services as ongoing local support groups, resource and information distributed through local hospitals, and grief counseling training for social workers and family counselors. Get involved with Share’s mission by volunteering with a local Share support group or organizing a Share for Hope and Remembrance charity walk in your community.
Postpartum Support International (PSI)
Approximately 15 percent of all women experience
postpartum depression following the birth of a child. When a mother’s mental health is compromised, it affects the entire family. If you are a survivor of postpartum depression, here’s a way to give back to other women still struggling. PSI is an nonprofit advocacy and support organization dedicated to raising awareness of postpartum depression; it distributes information and resources to hospitals and women’s health centers, operates a staffed depression hotline for new moms, and runs local support groups nationwide and in 26 countries around the world. Make a donation to PSI or get involved by becoming a volunteer coordinator and postpartum depression resource contact in your local area.
Baby Planet Strollers
Have an extra stroller or two stashed in the garage just collecting dust? Baby Planet, manufacturers of high-tech, enviro-friendly baby gear, wants them. As part of the company’s commitment to reducing landfill use, Baby Planet has partnered with charities nationwide that specialize in bringing donated children’s products to families in need. To find a new home for your child’s gently used stroller, visit Baby Planet’s website for volunteer organizations in your local area. Once you’ve set up a stroller drop off, Baby Planet asks that you thoroughly clean the stroller before donating it.
Sometimes donating to a worthy cause is as easy as shopping for your favorite baby products. Next time you run to the store to pick up some Pampers, look for packs specially marked with the slogan, “1 Pack = 1 Vaccine.” For every one of these you purchase, Pampers will donate the cost of one vaccine to help UNICEF protect a woman and her newborns against tetanus. Pampers goal is donate 45 million vaccines, so start shopping!
Happy Baby Food!
If you and your baby are fans of Happy Baby Food‘s line of yummy organic baby food, then you already know the mom-run company is uncompromising when it comes to nutritional quality and taste. What you might not know is that for every package of Happy Baby Food you buy, Happy Baby will work with Project Peanut Butter—a non-profit that provides food for starving children in Malawi—to feed one child for one day. Look for Happy Baby Food in the frozen food section of supermarkets and natural food stores nationwide. It’s good food for a great cause!
Give back to your community and make a difference right where you live by volunteering at a local charity for families in need. Check out these inspiring examples of organizations improving the lives of the less fortunate in cities from around the US:
To become involved with a good cause in your hometown, visit actor Kevin Bacon’s charity directory, SixDegrees.org, to find out more about nonprofit offerings in your own backyard!
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