WESTFIELD-Building bridges and “villages” to assist families in the region is part of an overall strategy for one hill town organization.
“We are hosting our first Village Closet Pop-Up and Westfield Family Resource Fair so local families can get the baby gear they need without the long drive to Cummington,” said Mollie Hartford, co-executive director and development manager for It Takes a Village, a nonprofit based in Cummington.
The May 11 event, free and open to the public, is slated from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield, 28 West Silver St.
Clothing and supplies are free to everyone, regardless of income or town of residence, and bags will be available, noted Hartford.
“We realized families were coming to us from the Westfield area and mentioned they knew others who didn’t have transportation access,” said Hartford. “We wanted to find a way to help families in Westfield receive the resources they needed as well as to help them build a family safety net.”
Hartford noted that whatever she can put in a U-Haul – donated by U-Haul of Westfield for the day – she will bring to the event.
“Clothing for infants through 5T will be available,” said Hartford, adding that maternity clothes, bibs and other linens, diapers, books and toys, baby bath tubs, bottles and feeding supplies will be offered. Coloring books and crayons will also be distributed to children.
“We welcome all families to come and go through our bins and shelves and take what you need,” said Hartford, adding, “We’ll also have local resources here to help families navigate local child care options, preschool, and other family services.”
Agencies at press time set to participate include the Westfield Park and Recreation Department, Square One, Healthy Families, Westfield Coordinated Family and Community Engagement program, Valley Opportunity Council and the local WIC office, Community Action Pioneer Valley, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield. A community officer from the Westfield Police Department will also be on hand to greet kids.
It Takes a Village received funding for this initiative from the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, The Beveridge Family Foundation, Inc. and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield. Additionally, Westfield Bank, Women’s Health Associates and the United Way of Hampshire County also made donations to ensure a successful event.
“We always welcome clean clothing and baby gear that is functional at our site in Cummington,” said Hartford, adding that monetary donations are also welcome.
One of the “long-term” goals of the organization is to help communities establish “donation sites” similar to the pop-up event planned.
“We hope that families will stop in and get to know the organizations and businesses that want to offer support,” said Hartford, adding she tells families it is OK to ask for support. “By making connections we are starting a village which is important since we are all in this together.”
In the coming months, Hartford is also planning pop-ups in Holyoke, Greenfield and in Berkshire County towns.
“It Takes a Village has given away over $100,000 of baby stuff, from clothing and diapers to strollers and car seats,” said Hartford. “We will continue to do pop-up events and bring as much inventory as we can carry to ensure we can help as many families as possible in the region.”
For more information on the organization or to make a donation – monetary or items – visit www.hilltownvillage.org or call (413) 650-3640.
“We hope that families from the Westfield area come in, take home some baby clothes and supplies, meet other families, and build that village that we are all looking for,” said Hartford.