From now until June 22, the Beer Shop, 1026 North Blvd., is accepting new and gently used baby supplies to dispense to families in need. The Beer Shop is serving as both a depository and distribution site for donations.
The month-long initiative, launched May 22, is the brainchild of Beer Shop co-owner Danielle Kovack, who just became a mom five months ago. Having her son really drove home how fraught it is for mothers at this moment in time. The painful realization prompted Kovack to organize the supply drive to support those who do not have the same access to resources that she does.
“There’s a lot of things you just don’t realize are so dire until you actually have the child,” she said.
As the baby formula shortage continues and the very real possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon reverse the ruling that made abortion a constitutional right, the national political climate is becoming increasingly unfriendly to childbearing individuals, especially those who struggle to afford expensive but necessary baby items.
“People are pushing for more babies to be born, but we don’t even have the proper necessities for these babies coming into the world,” she said. “There are a lot of new parents struggling just to feed their babies.”
The Beer Shop’s baby supplies drive is intended to help alleviate that stress by connecting those who have items with those who need them. As people drop off donations at the Beer Shop, Kovack is uploading pictures of the goods to the drive’s designated public Facebook group, called, “Baby Item Inventory Updates.”
“It really seems like a lot of people went out and bought stuff,” said Kovack. “I thought it was nice that they didn’t just take it from whatever they had in the house; they went out and made a conscious decision to buy something for someone else that they don’t know.”
Through Facebook private message or by calling the Beer Shop, people can lay claim to certain items or request specific products, such as diapers for newborns or swaddling blankets. Bottles, rubber nipples, baby food, wipes and even a sterilized breast pump have been donated so far. The pump had only been used 10 times before it was donated. The Beer Shop is also taking donations of postpartum necessities as well.
Donations of unused, unopened and unexpired baby formula are also being accepted. Some of the formula is coming straight from mothers themselves whose infants no longer need it but understand many others do.
Formula was already prohibitively expensive prior to the shortage. Now that it can hardly be found on grocery shelves, parents desperate to feed their children are becoming targets of profiteering and price gouging grifters.
Parents are traveling considerable distances to find formula with many retailers imposing limits on how much can be purchased. That has not gone unnoticed by Kovack.
“I’m pretty privileged. I can afford to get formula and food hasn’t been a problem,” she said. “I have transportation, so I can go to five different stores if I need to. That’s really not the case for a lot of people.”
If baby formula donations dry up, Kovack hopes that the baby supplies drive will help many families to offset the costs of finding and buying formula by not having to purchase diapers or other necessities.
Kovack also wants to make it as easy as possible for people to get the items they need. She has put together a team of Beer Shop regulars who are voluntarily delivering supplies to those without access to transportation. Those in need can also just walk into the shop and take what they need from inventory.
“I’m just trying to at least be a nearby drop-off site for Oak Park and Austin and anywhere else in the area, where they can at least count on [supplies] to be there.”