Heather Pizzino Lane, of the HAPI Project, helps distribute baby items to new and expectant mothers Saturday at Buckhannon-Upshur High School during the Upshur County Drive Thru Community Baby Shower. Upshur County residents Carrie Tenney and Amber Jones express their thank yous for the gifts they received and said they really are helpful, especially during this time.

Upshur FRN, HAPI Project ‘shower’ new, expectant moms with essentials

BUCKHANNON – Saturday’s forecast for Buckhannon called for ‘showers’; however, the only morning shower in the area was for the benefit of new and expecting moms who received a shower of gifts, including diaper bags, diapers, wipes and many other needed items.

The Community Baby Shower, which was was rescheduled from March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was co-sponsored by the Upshur County Family Resource Network and the HAPI Project.

“We were making plans, and everything came to a screeching halt,” Ginny Dixon, administrative assistant with the Upshur County Family Resource Network, said. “We came up with the idea of holding the event as a drive-thru service.”

Dixon said a number of agency representatives who would normally attend the event could not come; nonetheless, they mailed information or dropped off items to be distributed.

Items distributed included diapers, diaper bags, diaper wipes, outlet covers, sippy cups, baby toys, pack-and-plays and baby gates. She said a lot of the items ‘sprinkled’ on new and expectant moms were donated, and some funding came from the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur and from businesses and community members.

Dixon said Jodi McQuillan of the HAPI Project of WVU School of Medicine contacted the recipients to get an idea of the items they really needed; then, the two agencies made the purchases based on the needs expressed by the moms.

During the drive-thru event, Upshur County residents Carrie Tenney and Amber Jones expressed their gratitude for the baby items they received. Tenney said the items were extremely helpful to her and her family.

“Right now, I am out of work because of COVID,” Tenney said. “It is very helpful to be able to get the things I need.”

Jones agreed.

“This is very helpful,” Jones said. “I have three kids, and this will really help.”

Dixon said the Buckhannon VIPS – Volunteers in Police Services – helped at Saturday’s event by providing traffic control. She said volunteers from the Opportunity House came together to help pack the diaper bags with needed items and organize all the door prizes.

“We are so thankful for their assistance,” Dixon said. “They are a great team.”

Dixon said the Upshur County FRN is not a direct service agency.

“We collaborate,” Dixon said. “We could not do what we do without the help from all of these other community agencies.” Contributing agencies included representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau, Unicare, Buckhannon VIPS, the Opportunity House, Upshur County FRN Volunteers, Centers Against Violence and the HAPI Project.

McQuillan said each year, they organize the Upshur County Community Baby Shower in conjunction with the hospital and Dr. Kimberly Farry, working to distribute health and safety information out to new and expecting parents.

“We give them health and safety information as well as goodies for their babies,” McQuillan said. “We all struggle financially, and the whole idea is to get information out about agencies that work with families – safety and health information. It’s hard and we want moms to know that there is support in the community.”

McQuillan said usually, lots of agencies attend the shower to share information; however, the pandemic made that impossible, so they ran the event as a drive-thru to assure physical distancing and safety.

Upshur County Family Resource Network Director Lori Ulderich Harvey said Saturday’s event was a great success.

“We do thank all Team WV which provides the grant to cover some costs,” Harvey said. “We also want to thank the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur for their generous donation as well as the monetary and in-kind donations from businesses and community members. This event could not take place without their help.”

Additional information about the Upshur County Family Resource Network is available on Facebook or by calling 304-473-1051. Information about the HAPI Project is available on Facebook at West Virginia Healthy Start/HAPI Project or by calling 304-293-3840.

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