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  • By Dakota Connell-Ledwon South Bend Tribune
  • Updated
John Shafer shows some of the baby products at Michiana Five for the Homeless’ new Mother Goose program, which provides diapers to mothers in need. Tribune Photo/BECKY MALEWITZ

SOUTH BEND — Instead of choosing between buying food and buying diapers for their children, mothers in need can now receive child care supplies as part of a new program.

Michiana Five for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization, started the “Mother Goose” program on April 1. It provides care packages filled with diapers, baby wipes and toiletries to women enrolled in the federal Women, Infants and Children program.

John Shafer, director of Michiana Five, got the idea for the Mother Goose program when he bought diapers for his niece who was struggling to provide for her child.

“I don’t have children, but I’m just observing the cost of how expensive it is to raise a child,” said Shafer. “I don’t know how (mothers) do it.”

The care packages are not meant to be a permanent solution, he said. In the first month, a mother can receive a case containing over 100 diapers. In the second month, she will receive half that amount. In the third month, mothers get a third of a case.

“We want to try to give them immediate assistance, but not something that is going to be ongoing,” Shafer said.

While Michiana Five primarily caters to the homeless population, Shafer said the Mother Goose program is a preventive measure aimed at helping struggling mothers and families before they are in danger of becoming homeless. And, while the organization prefers that women be enrolled in WIC to receive a care package, it’s not a requirement.

“We wanted to be able to give back to the community and help people who are spiraling so they don’t end up homeless,” Shafer said.

Shafer plans to run the program from April to September each year. After September, any leftover diaper supplies will be given to local women’s shelters, and Michiana Five will begin collecting winter supplies like blankets, sleeping bags and coats.

“(After September) we’ll be focusing all of our storage capacity on our winter needs for the homeless,” Shafer said. “We need every bit of space for that.”

Since the Mother Goose program began, only about five women have come in to Michiana Five’s office to request a care package. Shafer believes that the program will be successful once word gets out.

For more information on the program, including how to receive a care package or donate supplies, call 574-607-3483.

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