Volunteering at St Kilda Mums
Erin McLean, Wellness Manager at Bupa shares her experience this International Volunteer Day (5 December 2018) about her team's visit to St Kilda Mums and their work helping to sort donated clothing.
While I am not a mother myself, I hope that one day I will be. When I picture what that time in my life might be like, I imagine the joy of buying teeny tiny clothes, decorating a nursery and daydreaming about what life might be like as a small, happy family of three.
Unfortunately for thousands of expectant mothers in Victoria, this is far from reality. Can you imagine coming home with a newborn baby and not having the money to care for them at a basic level, let alone purchase toys, cots, car seats or other fundamental items?
That's where St Kilda Mums steps in. The charity was established in 2009 to help provide women in the local area with the necessities to look after their children. Their main service is to recycle unwanted (and often brand new!) products such as prams and car seats as well as package up and provide bundles of clothes and other essential items. Local social workers and welfare staff work with St Kilda Mums to then provide the goods to local recipients, often who are in safe or temporary housing.
There is no doubt it's a great cause that really tugs at the heartstrings. That's why myself and a group of team members from Bupa Wellness decided to use one of our Bupa volunteering days to lend a hand to the lovely ladies at St Kilda Mums.
As part of our volunteer day we were required to donate $800 to contribute to the ongoing funding of the charity. While it sounded like a lot, with a small bake sale and Bupa matching our donation it was easily achieved.
When we arrived at St Kilda Mums they gave us a tour of their expanding factory and gave us an overview of how they came about and how they operate. I must admit, I was both shocked and in awe at the number of donations they have, but also saddened to know that it was still not enough to go around. One of the things I was most impressed by was how beautifully they packaged up the donation bags for presentation to the mums. In particular, the clothing and packs of bedding. Each 'kit' is lovingly put together by a volunteer, with a range of matching, fresh, clean items such as shoes, underwear, socks, clothes and of course a small toy.
Our main task for the day was to sort through the absolutely massive pile of clothes that many families had donated. We sorted through bags and bags, meticulously removing anything with stains, smells, rips etc and organising them by age and gender.
The rule was 'if you wouldn't put your children in it, then it's not good enough'. I loved this way of thinking - why should someone in need deserve less? I can't even imagine how thankful the recipients must be to give their children clothes and toys they would be proud of.
I must admit it was a long day and my feet were definitely sore from standing all day. I guess a decade in a desk job isn't great for stamina! Despite this it was a really great day, for a great cause and looking at all the adorable clothes was so fun - have you seen how cute baby socks are?
If you want to know more or donate any of your own baby related items, please make sure you check out stkildamums.org
I would encourage you all to get a group together and volunteer for a day at St Kilda Mums.
You will have a great time with your team and feel good about it at the same time knowing you have helped a family's day get that little bit brighter.
Written by Erin McLean, Bupa Wellness Manager.