Poverty among single-mother families is on the rise–and it’s an increase the HELPS baby pantry in Jacksonville has noticed.
HELPS Founder Kathleen Finkle says their program assisted about 982 babies last year in need of diapers, food, and clothing: something not all mothers can afford.
“We assisted about 982 babies last year,” says Finkle.
“Many young women find themselves in abusive situations because they don’t have the essentials they need for their baby. We provide these services for young moms, many young moms, to keep them out of those types of situations.”
Finkle, a Jacksonville resident, founded HELPS baby pantry in 1980 after her own daughter was in a horrible situation of her own.
“My daughter was sexually assaulted when she was 12 and unfortunately she had a baby when she was 13,” said Finkle.
After Finkle’s daughter saw that other young girls were in need of baby supplies, the family began their own baby pantry. Today, more than 30 years later, the need has grown even greater.
“If…themselves.” said Finkle.
Now HELPS baby pantry is looking for help. Jacksonville Salvation Army Captain Cheryl Selvage says it is rare to see donations of baby diapers and baby food, and when they do get baby supplies, they are gone almost instantly.
“”We want to support them in any way we can,” says Selvage.
“We know there is a need. Everywhere you go people are having children,” said Selvage. I mean every day things go up. Your gas prices, your food prices, your baby supplies, diapers, wipes. A lot of people don’t realize to donate those things.”
Donations help those who help others.
“Anything that they would like to do–furniture, clothing, things of that nature–all of those things would be a blessing for small children between the ages of zero and seven,” said Finkle.
HELPS Ministry Outreach in Jacksonville is looking to local organizations and area churches to help them get baby supplies during Lent. However, they say they will always accept donations, since there is a need year round.
If you would like to make a contribution to the HELPS organization, they are located at 238 West State Street in Jacksonville. Their number is 217-245-7559.