Donna Cartwright began donating nappies and maternity clothes to Mums Supporting Families in Need while at home looking after her young children. Six-and-a-half years later and she’s the vice-president of this not-for-profit organisation, which has just celebrated receiving a $5000 RACV Community Foundation grant and the helping of more than 20,000 families since its inception.
Donna explains: “I was at home with my newborn son and kinder-age daughter and thought I’d really like to do something else with my time. I became a volunteer for the MSFIN Langwarrin drop-off point, then the warehouse supervisor and am now vice-president. We help around 150 families per month with food and toiletry hampers and clothing. We also make sure disadvantaged kids get presents at Christmas. Last year, 3502 children received gifts. The RACV Community Foundation grant, which we received in April, will be used to purchase single and double prams. We had a cake to celebrate the 20,000 milestone too.”
Mums Supporting Families in Need currently has 35 drop-off points around Melbourne where people can donate their good-quality unused clothing; you can also drop off items at the warehouse in Seaford. Working with community groups to aid the homeless, women escaping family violence, parents coming out of prison, refugees, migrants and those in transitional and foster care or with mental health or substance abuse issues, the group’s dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to support those less fortunate.
Donna continues: “People in need are referred to us once they have been assessed by social workers. You know, there are so many children out there who are not sleeping or travelling safely. They are hungry too. Last year a kinder in Frankston North reported that at least half of the children were turning up in thongs and light clothing in winter. They were freezing. Now, a four-year-old can’t do anything about a situation like this — but we can. We supplied as many gumboots and coats as we could but there weren’t enough, so the kinder had a roster. Half the kids went outside in the gumboots and coats, and when their turn was over they came inside and gave the boots and coats to the other half.”
Mums Supporting Families in Need currently has 30 volunteers and four sponsors and only takes donations that the donors would use themselves. Donna continues: “Our aim is to help people recover with dignity, so we want to provide things of quality. If you wouldn’t use it yourself, then it’s probably not great for donation. One recipient described our help as ‘a parcel of hope’. I remember a woman last year who was fleeing from domestic violence with her three children. She had to start again with nothing. The kids didn’t even have school bags or lunch boxes, which meant they didn’t look like everyone else. That’s important for kids. We made sure they did.”
For more information on this Peninsula-based charity, go to www.msfin.org.au, or follow it on Facebook @Mums Supporting Families in Need Inc