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It’s Not Just About The Box SHAKER LIFE | SPRING 2017 51 Babies Need Boxes Ohio’s long-term goal is state-funded, universal box distribution. A BNB Ohio fundraising event at Ben and Jerry’s. Photos courtesy Sarah Megenhardt Helping babies is an easy sell. BNB Ohio’s Facebook page got 20,000 views in its first three days. The organization already has 40 names in its volunteer database, representing folks eager to help out putting together boxes, raising or donating money, and/or collecting items to augment the basic supplies. Megenhardt says that a fundraiser at Ben & Jerry’s made more money than one of their best regular days. One of Dreyfuss’ colleagues at Hathaway Brown is knitting baby caps for the boxes. The Children’s Book Bank has agreed to donate culturally appropriate baby books, and the Northeast Ohio chapter of the American College of Nurse Midwives has designated BNB Ohio as its charity recipient this year. But the baby box is more than just nice swag. In order to receive her box, each mother completes an educational component about parenting, childcare, and safe sleep, either through a centering pregnancy program or on-line at Baby Box University, an education module offered free by the Baby Box Company, the exclusive supplier of the boxes. According to Dreyfuss, the California-based Baby Box Company’s business model is “profit with a purpose.” In addition to their on-line retail business, the company donates boxes and basic supplies to Babies Need Boxes chapters in Ohio and Minnesota. The non-profit groups supplement the contents, and arrange for storage and distribution. The basic box comes with diapers, books, a thermometer, a mattress and sheet, sleep sack, information packet, breastfeeding support items, and access to Baby Box University online. BNB Ohio supplements the box with more baby care products, teething rings, and postpartum care supplies. They try to tailor the contents to the individual families involved. For example, the group is currently collecting information packets and children’s books written in Arabic for several Syrian refugee families. For such a young organization, the board is already dreaming big. Dreyfuss hopes for Ohio-wide distribution. The long-term goal is state-funded, universal box distribution. “We’d like to supply boxes for anyone that has the need,” says Dreyfuss. Cunanan believes our society falls far short in post-partum care. “Some women are under so much stress. There may be violence in their community, they may lack food or have poor living conditions...there’s no childcare, no breastfeeding support. As midwives, we’re always wanting to do more.” Megenhardt says, “That post-partum period, especially for the first child – it doesn’t matter how much support you have, it’s still hard.” “It’s not just about the box,” says Selassie. “It’s about education, parental support, lowering infant mortality. Everybody’s raised up.” Organizationally, BNB Ohio plans to expand its partnership with other community organizations, and diversify the board to reflect the various communities they serve. Appreciation for diversity and altruism are values each woman mentioned as reasons why they choose to live in Shaker. Loughan concludes, “Truly, people are what holds a community together. We have some of the most amazing, talented, interesting, caring, diverse people right here in our backyards.” SL


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