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Eastside Baby Corner — there for the whole child
Seven days a week, 50 weeks a year there is a continuous cycle of intake and outflow at Issaquah's Eastside Baby Corner.
On Thursday morning various provider partners — no less than 50 — pick up customized orders for families in need. Thursday August 29, 829 orders went out.
Then the cycle begins again. Sorting through donated items, volunteers meticulously place new or gently used items in various bins of clothing, toys, shoes and hard goods. The organization of all the goods is impressive. Clothing is separated by size and gender.
The non-profit takes in and gives out everything a child needs from birth to 12-years-old said Helen Banks Routon, director of development and community relations.
"Our job is to remove barriers that allows parents to get back on their feet," Banks Routon said.
Eastside Baby Corner doesn't work directly with families, rather they work with providers that range from social workers, women's shelters, school districts and various service organizations. The providers let them know what a family needs, and they put the orders together.
Items are donated by the public, many of them new or almost new. Eastside Baby Corner does purchase food, formula, diapers, car seats, socks, underwear and porta-cribs because these are things that are absolutely needed for a new baby coming home for the first time.
Layette sets go home with brand-new babies. Banks Routon said they assemble and distribute about 800 layette sets a year. Cases of food and formula are distributed to 11 different food banks from Issaquah to Carnation and in between.
There are about 50 "core" volunteers, who come in on a weekly basis, along with others who help out frequently. Volunteer Ali Haywood, who has an 18-month-old son recently spent hours putting together backpacks with school supplies. There are countless jobs for the volunteers to take care of.
Retired engineers and construction workers spend time repairing donated bicycles, strollers and car seats to make sure they are safe. Car seats have to fit the child's size and age as well as be compatible with mom or dad's car.
New blankets and quilts are handmade by organizations such as the Issaquah Quilters, Eastside crafters, Stitches from the Heart, the Needle Brigade and Girl Scouts.
Then there are toys that come in and need a little repair, which is done by volunteers. Girls can be rough on dolls, ratting their hair, marking them up with sharpies — a few volunteers refurbish the dolls, washing and fixing the hair and cleaning them up, putting new clothes on them then wrapping them in cellophane so they look brand new.
Brand new toys that are donated are set aside for birthday presents for children who otherwise would not have anything for their birthday.
Banks Routon said sometimes they are just supplementing families, where both parents work, but are paid minimum wage, or one has lost a job.
"A car breaking down, a death in the family or health issues can put a family right on the edge," she said.
Formula for babies is a must, and at $16 for a can of Similac that lasts three days, it adds up fast she said. Diapers are the biggest need. Eastside Baby Corner has increased their distribution of diapers over 50 percent from the same time period, January to August, over last year. Food stamps or WIC (Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service) cannot be used for diapers.
Huggies will be providing two million diapers over the next two years to Side by Side Northwest, a collaboration of Eastside Baby Corner and West Side Baby, which is located in White Center. Side by Side is the only joint regional diaper bank in the US.
Saturday, Sept 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Eastside Baby Corner is having its 4th Annual Pants Party. The goal is to collect 2,500 pairs of pants for kids in need. Bring in new and gently used boys and girl's pants, and enjoy fun, food, games and tours of the facility. This drive is needed because they never have enough pants, especially for boys. Sizes 5 and up are welcome, but 10 to 14 boy's pants are especially needed.
"We run a permanent shortage of clothes for boys," Banks Routon said. "Boys are hard on clothes."
She said a child needs three to five pair of pants to get them through a school week. Banks Routon said to bring garage sale leftovers, raid the kids' closets for pants that no longer fit or bring in a new pair.
Founder Karen Ridlon's philosophy is "We're here for the whole child." Eastside Baby Corner has held up to that standard with a service area that is so large they now supplement other organizations.
Diapers are the biggest need for families. Huggies is providing 2 million diapers over the next two years to Side by Side Northwest, a collaboration of Eastside Baby Corner and West Side Baby in White Center.
Backpacks filled with school supplies are ready to go for students who need them at Eastside Baby Corner.