We’ve all heard of baby showers. Chances are, most of us have participated in baby showers, even the guys. Baby showers are a great way to give a boost to young families that are just gathering their bearings towards a life-long journey with kids in tow.
The Community Baby Shower was conceived as a way for disadvantaged families to get ahead… or catch a break after experiencing childbirth, which can be financially cumbersome to say the least. United Way of Buffalo & Erie County (UWBEC) organizes the annual event, which has become an indispensable undertaking for numerous young families.
Over the past 10 years, the Community Baby Shower has distributed over 10,000 baby bundles to mothers in need.
This year, like so many other events, things are a bit different due to the COVID-19 climate. At the same time, the needs of young families are even greater because of the virus. Therefore, the organizers have resorted to virtual ways of collecting supplies such as diapers, wipes, and digital thermometers. CDC guidelines prevent people from gathering at baby showers, but that does not mean that they can’t still help young families struggling to make ends meet.
Supporters of this effort, sponsored by John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and Citi can participate in the following ways:
- Host a virtual baby shower. People can use the toolkit provided by UWBEC to host their own virtual baby shower complete with baby shower games and access to UWBEC speakers who can answer questions and share information on the work being done in this area.
- Send a digital baby shower card. Send words of encouragement (or wisdom) to mothers in our community by sending them a virtual baby shower card. These cards will be included in the baby bundles when they are distributed.
- Donate a baby bundle. In lieu of donating physical items, the community can purchase a baby bundle. There are several different types of baby bundles available to donate on UWBEC’s website. People are encouraged to donate rather than purchase a physical item to ensure store shelves remain stocked for families who need the items immediately.
“Unfortunately the needs don’t stop when a crisis hits and now more than ever local mothers need our support,” said Michael Weiner, president & CEO United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. “Shifting the Community Baby Shower online allows the community to connect through virtual baby showers or write a personal note to a mother as they did in the past. The biggest difference is instead of going to the store to purchase diapers or wipes we encourage people to donate that cost instead. This keeps those items in stores for the families who need them now and allows us to work with our partners to utilize our purchasing power and distribute items to mothers in our community safely.”
The funds collected during the baby shower will be used to fill baby bundles.
“For those less fortunate in our community, the challenges of parenthood, particularly during the current pandemic, are especially challenging,” said Allegra Jaros, president at Oishei Children’s Hospital. “We are proud to once again partner with the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County to secure the funds necessary to secure supplies and baby items that help moms and families in Western New York give their child a head start in life. Thanks to the generosity of our community, this year’s initiative is poised to help even more moms and babies, giving them hope for a better, brighter and healthier future.”
Each year babies are born into poverty – these babies are at higher risk of health issues due to a lack of prenatal care.
“Citi is proud to support the United Way’s Community Baby Shower for the third year to provide a healthy start for newborns,” said Robin L. Wolfgang, Communications Officer, Citi.” It is shocking to hear that in our country minority children are twice as likely to die before their first birthday. The high cost of diapers means that one in three mothers fight to provide necessities for their babies. Citi applauds the United Way for continuing to collect, assemble and deliver crucial supplies even during this pandemic. It couldn’t be more needed.”
Baby bundles will be distributed to the clients of three UWBEC funded nonprofit agencies that serve young families including Catholic Charities of Buffalo WIC program; Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network; and the Jericho Road Community Health Center. When it is deemed safe the baby bundles will be distributed to mothers throughout Erie County.
The 2020 Community Baby Shower runs for one month, through June 10.
For more information about the Community Baby Shower visit, uwbec.org/babyshower.
Lead image: Photo by Ryan Kwok