Vancouver group collecting winter gear for babies to help vulnerable families during freezing weather

“It was heartbreaking for us knowing that as parents we can’t provide all the things that our baby needs. Thankfully, there is BabyGoRound who supported us. Instead of worrying about the baby items, we get to focus on taking care of our newborn baby.” — Rayzel

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Rayzel and her husband immigrated to Canada from the Philippines three years ago. They struggled initially to find work and then, during the COVID-19 pandemic, isolated from all their family, they had their first baby.

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But with limited income and the high cost of housing in Vancouver, most of their financial resources went to rent. There was little money left over for clothing items for their infant son, Mavi. Fortunately, a nurse referred them to a Vancouver charity group that helps provide essential baby items to those in need.

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That organization, called BabyGoRound, is now seeking help from the community to keep babies in low income or vulnerable families from going cold this winter as the demand for help soars.

Alyssa Gibson, the manager of marketing and community engagement for BabyGoRound, which is located in East Vancouver, said they are putting together winter-weather protection kits for parents to ensure that their infants and toddlers have appropriate outerwear for the freezing weather.

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Gibson estimates the number of people needing help with baby supplies in Metro Vancouver has gone up 10 per cent over the last couple of years because of many different factors, such as the pandemic, refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and increases in inflation and the cost of living.

She said women fleeing violence in the home or refugees often leave without any of their possessions or money, making it difficult to get the critical baby gear they need to care for their babies.

Rayzel, whose surname has been omitted on request of BabyGoRound to protect the vulnerable families that need their help, was referred to BabyGoRound by her public health nurse.

She said it was difficult as a new mom during an isolating pandemic to get by without the help of extended family nearby to rely on or an established community.

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“It was heartbreaking for us knowing that as parents we can’t provide all the things that our baby needs. Thankfully, there is BabyGoRound who supported us. Instead of worrying about the baby items, we get to focus on taking care of our newborn baby,” said Rayzel.

With these winter items, we can now take our son out without worrying that he will get cold or sick. Moreover, he can play in the snow and enjoy the winter season. The warm clothings and accessories help our son to have more happy childhood memories during wintertime,” said Rayzel.

“We’re at this crossroads right now where we just really need the help of the community in order to meet the needs of families. We’re seeing a greater need than we have the resources to keep up with,” said Gibson.

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Gibson added that many of the families they support through various support agencies do not have vehicles, so they have to walk to the grocery store with their infants. And, in cold weather that can mean babies are at risk if they don’t have enough winter gear.

“When you go outdoors babies are extra prone to becoming chilled and they need to have every limb covered, from their hands to their body to their head,” said Gibson.

“But someone struggling to pay for food and rent can’t suddenly spend $100 on a snowsuit.”

The items they desperately need include snowsuits, hats, gloves, winter jackets, snow pants, baby blankets, and pram bags.

They accept gently used clothing items from newborn to 24 months. This means the clothing shouldn’t be ripped or have stains. There is also an option on the BabyGoRound website to purchase a donated item on Amazon or donate money.

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The organization will also be collecting the used items at 25 participating donation locations across the Lower Mainland (a list can be found on the group’s website) and at the BabyGoRound office, located at 2939 Kingsway, on Monday between 10 a.m. and noon.

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