On Thursday, May 25, the MOMS Club of Mint Hill assembled gift bags for moms who shop at the Matthews HELP Center.
The idea came to MOMS Club Service Coordinator Jennifer Stanley when she met with Matthews HELP Center Director Sandra Conway to discuss how the MOMS Club could support the HELP Center. The two women were discussing the center’s backpack program, which provides backpacks filled with food staples to children who depend on school meals during the week. Stanley was searching for ways to involve the children of moms in the club, many of whom are very young, and Conway mentioned a group that made small treat bags to hand out to children with the backpacks.
“It made me think,” says Stanley. “What about the mothers of these children? In my blog, I am a big proponent of self care for mothers because I know that we tend to put ourselves last, and nurturing everyone around is is our main priority. So I can only imagine how rarely a mother who is suffering with crushing financial burdens would take a moment to care for herself.”
Stanley took the idea to the MOMS Club, asking its members, “What are little ways to give yourself a break?” Stanley was overwhelmed by the response from moms in the club. The moms gathered donations and met at Stanley’s house for their monthly moms’ night out to decorate and stuff gift bags. The twenty-five finished gift bags included a variety of self-care items like shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, lip balm and emery boards. They also included treats like tea, candy, nail polish, essential oil rollers, bath bombs, and homemade soap.
It was important to Stanley and the other moms who participated that the gift bags include “luxury” items that went beyond basic hygienic necessities, and they drew on their own experience and talents to make it happen. “Using hand made soaps makes me feel like I’m in a spa,” says Crystal Case, who made soap for the gift bags. “I’ve always enjoyed buying soaps for myself as a little treat, so I figured it would be nice to include them in our bags.”
This marks the third service endeavor the MOMS Club has undertaken with Matthew HELP Center since Stanley took on the Service Project Coordinator role in the spring. In April, Stanley led the club in the “Maxis for Moms” drive collecting feminine hygiene items for the HELP Center. “From my experience volunteering in the past, I know that there is always a list of items that people don’t think to donate,” says Stanley. “At Matthew HELP Center, those items included general hygiene items, and most specifically, feminine hygiene items.” A group of moms and children delivered the maxi pads on April 27, along with cards that the children had made for volunteers who staff the HELP Center.
Though the cards, which were also delivered to volunteers at A Servant’s Heart, may seem like an afterthought, it’s vitally important to Stanley to undertake service projects that get the club’s children actively involved or at least standing by mom’s side. “It’s incredibly important to me to introduce the idea of giving selflessly to my daughter,” says Stanley. “So my focus is to find as many ways as possible to involve our children in service projects.”
Stanley chose to reach out to the HELP Center because it is a local organization that serves families in Mint Hill and the surrounding areas, where Stanley’s chapter of the MOMS Club is based. “Although our group of mothers covers a wide socio-economic range, we are all very fortunate to have enough food to eat, stable living environments, and medical care,” says Stanley. “Many families are not so lucky. Whatever small contributions we can make are much needed and appreciated by these organizations and the populations they serve.”
As the MOMS Club of Mint Hill elects a new executive board and moves into its next business year, Stanley’s hope as its continuing service coordinator is to find three or four organizations that serve local families and help them as much as possible. She hopes to conduct service projects every other month. In July, the club will begin collecting no-longer-needed Halloween costumes and gathering at the HELP Center to assemble potential costumes from donated clothes. Stanley also hopes to see the gift bag initiative become an annual Mother’s Day project in the future.