Alpena Baby Pantry celebrates 10th anniversary

The spirit of giving has enabled Alpena’s Baby Pantry to operate successfully for a decade.

In May 2003, the Baby Pantry first opened its doors to families needing materials goods and encouragement with the care of their children. It was started as a program of the Alpena/Presque Isle Child Abuse and Neglect (CA/N) Team with a mission of helping to prevent child abuse and neglect by helping parents of infants and toddlers during some of their most stressful times.

“Ten years later we still hold that mission as our focus and goal helping families with children,” said Coordinator Celeste Phillips. “It has been a rewarding 10 years, and we are proud to have been able to serve so many families.”

Phillips also said that it is not the intention of the program to meet all of any family’s needs relating to their infants and toddlers.

“Nevertheless, the stressful times are usually not limited to one week or one month, so we do see many families several times,” she said.

The Baby Pantry, located in St. Bernard’s Parish Center at 319 Lockwood, is open on the third Thursday of each month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers help families find the items that they need. Cash donations and dollars from fundraisers allow the program to purchase items such as diapers, baby food, formula and bath supplies.

Clothing, baby equipment, toys and books are all donated by the public. Those items are carefully examined, cleaned and put in safe condition before they are offered to Baby Pantry customers.

Over the years, the public has responded generously by supporting the Baby Pantry either with financial contributions, donations of clothing and other items, or volunteer help. During the 2012 year alone, the Baby Pantry served 1,097 families representing 1,502 children. Volunteers provided 1,501 hours of service.

“A number of community organizations and churches are regular donors to the pantry, and all of that helps immensely in our goal to operate solely on donations of goods and cash,” said volunteer Jennie Kerr.

Many times those who were helped by the program turn around and give back to the Baby Pantry items they no longer need which enables the program to assist even more families.

“I am constantly amazed at the number of families who need help and how grateful they are,” Kerr said. “Many of our customers not only come to the pantry for help but they often return things to the pantry that their own children have outgrown.”

To mark the 10-year anniversary, the Baby Pantry will serve cookie and lemonade to all customers coming to the next giveaway, which is set for this Thursday.

Donations of items and money are always welcome as are volunteers. Anyone who would like to volunteer or donate, contact Phillips at 356-9516.