Banter From One Mom to Another
A Silver Spring woman helps start a nonprofit to distribute used kids clothing and gear
When 85 families crowded into My Gym Kentlands one day last November, they came for more than a playdate. They also brought bags of kids clothes, toys and other items to donate to ShareBaby, a nonprofit based in Kensington and Baltimore that distributes the donations to children and expectant mothers who are living in local shelters.
The organization was founded in 2014 by Silver Spring resident Maya Ammons and Kristin Finkelstein and Kate Mumaw, both of Baltimore. The friends, all in their early 30s, were chatting over lunch one day about the amount of baby items—from bedding and gear to toys and clothing—they had acquired. Finkelstein and Mumaw each had two children under age 3 at the time, and Ammons had a 2-year-old daughter and was pregnant with her second child. The women realized they all had too much baby stuff.
Some new moms don’t have that luxury. Many local families are struggling to provide the basics, says Jermaine Lemons, in-kind resource specialist at The National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, a ShareBaby partner agency. A 2015 count of Montgomery County’s homeless population found that 159 families, including 318 children, lacked permanent homes, according to a report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
“There is a real need in our backyard,” Ammons says. “One ZIP code over, there are kids who don’t have money for clothes.”
ShareBaby works with 13 shelters across Maryland, including five in Montgomery County, to provide clothing, furniture and supplies such as bottles, formula and bedding to needy families. The deliveries to shelters are customized to fit the needs of each family. For example, a mom with twin infant sons received a bag of baby clothes for boys, including matching holiday outfits.
“Each child gets a tailored bag,” Ammons says. “It takes a lot of time, but I know a mom is going to get this and love it.”
For the needy families, receiving the donations means one less concern at a time when they have even bigger worries, such as providing enough food, finding housing and work, and staying healthy, Lemons says.
ShareBaby asks “our mothers what is it that they need, and nine times out of 10 they get exactly what our mothers need,” he says. “These items take a load off. It’s one less thing to worry about.”
In 2015, ShareBaby provided more than 32,000 items and distributed over 10,000 diapers. In Montgomery County, Ammons and ShareBaby Chief Development Officer Monique Yuan of Bethesda handle all collections and distribution. A team of volunteers helps with sorting items throughout the year. The organization rents storage space for donations in Kensington and is planning to open offices there in February.
“Our goal is to support all shelters in Maryland,” Ammons says.
Another ShareBaby goal is to bring new parents together to build community networks. That’s why collection drives are held at places such as My Gym or neighborhood playgrounds. The idea is that families can drop off their donations and stay to play and meet new friends, according to Ammons.
“We want to create a network,” she says. “Everyone wants to do good. We’re trying to make it easy on everyone to give and to receive.”