Organizers hope a community "baby shower" will help relieve pressure on young, low-income mothers.
During its fourth annual Shower of Love drive, the Community and Children's Resource Board is collecting new baby care items through April 30 at drop-off sites throughout St. Charles County.
"By taking care of basic needs, we are reducing the stress these young moms are facing," said Bruce Sowatsky, the board's executive director. "By reducing stress, we thought we could reduce incidents of child abuse in the community."
Organizers will divide the donations evenly between four agencies - Crisis Nursery and Youth In Need in St. Charles, Our Lady's Inn in Defiance, and Mary Queen of Angels in O'Fallon.
The drive collects a wide range of baby items, but the most critical ones are diapers and formula.
"Those are the most needed because they are the most expensive and hardest to purchase," said Michelle McElfresh, the drive's coordinator. "You always need diapers and formula every day with a baby. You never have enough."
Last year's Shower of Love drive collected $61,000 in donated items and cash combined, Sowatsky said. The drive helps 200-250 young mothers countywide.
The drive provides Our Lady's Inn with half its annual supply of baby items, said Betsy Beauparlant, development director for the maternity shelter. Our Lady's Inn serves about 50 homeless pregnant women and 35 infants per year, she said.
The shelter receives an influx of donated baby items during the holidays, but supplies run low by spring. The Shower of Love drive replenishes the inventory, providing enough supplies to last through the fall, Beauparlant said.
Donors can drop off small items at any New Frontier Bank or Club Fitness location in St. Charles County; Southwest Bank at 3001 WingHaven Blvd. or 101 Laura K Drive in O'Fallon; Sanford-Brown College at 100 Richmond Center Blvd. in St. Peters; and the Fairwinds-River's Edge retirement community at 600 River's Edge Drive in St. Charles.
For cribs and other large items, donors must bring them to the resource board's office at 2440 Executive Drive, Suite 214, off Highway 94 in St. Charles. Call the office at 636-939-6200 to arrange a large item drop-off.
On May 6, volunteers will collect donations at 16 stores, including Mid-Towne IGA in St. Charles, and Wal-Mart, Schnucks, Dierbergs and Shop 'n Save locations throughout St. Charles County.
McElfresh said she is recruiting 300 volunteers to stand outside the stores in two-hour shifts from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. She is also asking churches and businesses to organize collection drives this month. Call the resource board office for information on volunteering or organizing collection drives.