Christmas doesn’t always come easy for local families, some of whom may experience financial difficulty while raising children. To help make the holiday a little more joyful for these families, Fruitland Church of the Brethren opens its Baby Bank to these families on the third Monday of every month. The project has been going since 2012.

To learn more about this monthly charitable effort, the Independent-Enterprise visited the Baby Bank on Oct. 21.

According to church member and volunteer Lorraine Hunsucker, the Baby Bank draws in recipients from around the Western Treasure Valley.

“We provide a place for people to bring their clothing and equipment and different things that pertain to babies. And then we clean it and get it ready and then it’s redistributed to people for free. People are welcome to come shop, and then when their child outgrows the clothes, they bring it back and that’s how we just rotate it through — and seems to work quite well.”

Volunteers launder all clothing items and clean all baby items before offering them. Mending is also done.

“Would love to do it more, but [there’s a] lack of people to be able to help maintain it and ... run it,” according to Hunsucker. “So we’ve just chosen to do it once a month and it seemed to work fairly well because the women know and look forward to this time.”

The Baby Bank regularly attracts families from around the area, according to Hunsucker.

“We’re always open to help people,” she said of the Church’s outreach efforts.

And during October through December, the church takes the Baby Bank one step further, opening the Christmas room, which is separate from the rest of the Baby Bank. While kids are allowed to tag along at the baby bank, they’re not allowed in this room for a good reason:

“It’s only for adults because it’s for parents that come to the baby bank to come in and to shop and get things for their children for Christmas, and it’s free,” said Hunsucker.

But as seasonal clothes come in, they are allowed to check those out, too, she said. These include Halloween costumes, which were offered during this month’s opening.

While the Baby Bank is primarily made possible by Church members’ donations, outside donors also assist, including the Hope Pregnancy Center in Ontario and the Western Idaho Community Action Program (WICAP) in Payette.

“They help not only with clothing and equipment and toys, but they also give us baby food when they have an excess of it,” sais Hunsucker. “So that just is another avenue for us to be able to reach out with something more for the people that come here and shop.”

And while the Baby Bank only asks for up to 4T size, clothes are accepted for all kids.

“When we get larger sizes for children, we have boxes for that, too,” according to Hunsucker.

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