Eagle Lake mom providing formula and diapers to new parents
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Stacey Tabor doesn’t ask questions before she starts handing out diapers, formula and other baby essentials.
There are no income or residency restrictions to access her Feeding Every Baby Formula Shelf.
The Eagle Lake mom offers supplies to any parent struggling to make ends meet. Most of her offerings have been donated by fellow parents who understand the struggle, The Mankato Free Press reported .
Tabor gifted necessities to over 600 families last year. She helped many more families trade their excess baby products for something else they need.
The first or second Saturday of every month she fills her minivan with the donations she has collected and treks them through the River Hills Mall and into the conference room at the Cambria Gallery. For two hours, new parents filter in and out receiving or trading items.
Andrew Gould made his first visit to the formula shelf recently and left with a few days’ supply of formula and diapers as well as a pacifier and a few other items for his 3-month-old daughter.
“With a newborn it’s always a struggle, especially this time of year,” the father of two said.
Tabor started the formula shelf two years ago after herself straining to find formula for her newborn daughter.
When the new addition to her family didn’t cooperate with her plan to breast feed, Tabor found herself frantically shopping for formula and shocked by the cost. She had to try several different kinds of formula before finding one that agreed with her baby girl.
She discovered government assistance from the Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service provides some but not enough formula and has limited brand options, she said.
Tabor used social media to trade with other moms the products that didn’t work for her baby and all the free samples she could find.
She has continued and grown that endeavor even after her own daughter has outgrown the items she provides.
“It’s crazy how much time (Tabor) puts into this. She helps so many families,” said Stacy Hilleshein, a North Mankato mom who has been helping with the formula shelf since she once traded formula.
Parents can visit the formula shelf an unlimited number of times to make a trade. Formula must be unopened. Packages of outgrown diapers can be opened.
Parents who need help but don’t have anything to trade are invited to come up to three times a year and six times per child. Gifts are given while supplies last.
A few of the gifts are supplied by the nearby Motherhood Maternity store. But most of the items were donated by individuals.
Margarita Serrato and her family came from Le Sueur to donate several packages of diapers. Serrato works with Tabor at the Cambria plant in Le Sueur and said she is inspired by Tabor’s selflessness.
Tabor said she’s grateful to her employer for providing free use of the mall gallery conference room to herself and other philanthropic organizations.
She’s hoping to hold distribution events more frequently in 2019 and is looking for other businesses or organizations that would provide her a place to set up. She also is looking for businesses willing to host a donation drop box.
Tabor has applied for nonprofit organization, which she hopes will be approved soon and will make donations tax deductible.
Tabor uses Facebook to ask supporters for items in short supply.
“If she doesn’t have what you need she tries to find it,” said helper Stacey Peterson of Kasota.
Her Facebook page also includes a schedule of upcoming distribution events and contact information for donors to arrange a pickup if they cannot come to the monthly event.
Morgan Mahan of Mankato discovered Tabor’s project on social media while looking for somewhere to donate some supplies she couldn’t use. She now volunteers her home as a donation drop-off site and helps with the monthly events. After needing assistance when she first became a mom, she said she finds the opportunity to “pay it forward” especially rewarding.
“When you have to choose between formula and putting gas in your car, some free formula can be a lifesaver,” she said.
Information from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com