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'Helping Mamas' supports families in crisis with crucial resources

Helping Mamas collect donations of diapers, formula, clothes, car seats and much more. The crucial resources help give struggling moms hope.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — While Mother's Day is once a year, a Knoxville nonprofit supports moms every day. Helping Mamas is dedicated to bringing strength to the struggle.

Whether it's diapers, formula, car seats or clothes — Helping Mamas Knoxville gives essential resources to those who need them.

The small warehouse in West Knoxville is home to the life-changing organization. Helping Mamas started in a garage in 2018, moved to a small space and then moved to their new warehouse during the pandemic.

Now, those shelves are full of supplies and support.

"Knowing how hard it is to be a mom, I think we want to make sure that we're empowering and supporting and carrying these moms on because we know the impact that it has on their children, and then on our community," said Melissa Barnett, the program coordinator with Helping Mamas Knoxville.

Barnett and Tess Frear are the women pouring into the nonprofit each day, behind the scenes.

The nonprofit originally started in Atlanta in 2014. It was Frear's cousin who made the jump to collect donations and help her community in Georgia. It wasn't long before Frear felt called to bring it to Tennessee.

"We're all connected through mothers," Barnett said. "You are one, you have one, and we like for people to take that passion and that piece and help."

The Baby Supply Bank delivers everything from diapers, clothes, formula, car seats and more to mothers and families in crisis.

"For moms to see that there is something like this, I think it's just a burden lifted for them, because they can reach out to us, and then we will connect them to whatever service that they need at that time in their life," Frear said.

That need is greater right now, more than ever.

The nonprofit handed out 106,000 diapers in 2021 and is expected to give out 160,000 diapers by the end of this year.

Common baby items, like diapers and formula, have gone up in price during the pandemic, and government programs like WIC and SNAP don't help with what they consider luxury products.

"Diapers are not very luxurious if you've ever changed one," Frear said. "There's no help for those things. There is for formula, but those are kind of restricted. Sometimes your baby needs something different. So we try to provide those things where they're missing."

The Knoxville branch of the nonprofit is partnered with over 50 agencies and serves more than two dozen counties in East Tennessee.

Credit: Helping Mamas

"Just knowing that you're providing the empowerment that we've all needed at times, is going to change how they parent and just giving them that ability is something that we can all do," Barnett said. 

But they couldn't do it without volunteers and donations.

"I think our prayer is that we're making a dent, that we're providing a solution to a problem," Barnett said.

At the end of the day, they know the impact goes beyond their four walls.

For Mother's Day, Helping Mamas is asking for donations of $25 to go towards mom self-care kits, but people can donate any amount at any time.

They can also donate items and host diaper drives for the nonprofit.

Visit their Facebook or Instagram pages to learn more about how you can help and get involved.