Earlier this year, when Mother's Day was rolling around and family members were challenged to find the best gift for Mom, a Washington County mother of three wondered if there were other ways mothers could be recognized.
Maria Berglund moved from Canada to Sherwood six years ago with her husband. She said since becoming a mother, she wanted to volunteer and support other mothers in her community.
"Being a mom is really hard," she said.
For three years, Berglund was a board member at the Sherwood chapter of the international nonprofit MOMS Club, helping organize local service events to build a community between mothers.
With her firsthand experience as a mother, in addition to the experiences shared with her by fellow mothers in the community, Berglund saw that "moms are often the last to speak their needs and usually put themselves and their needs behind that of the family."
In July, Berglund combined her passion for service and community building to create the nonprofit In Kind Boxes. Working with baby supply companies, In Kind will donate care boxes that contain maternity supplies for local babies and mothers in need.
"We just want mamas to feel loved and not alone," Berglund said.
She hopes that women receiving the boxes will feel recognized.
Part of Berglund's inspiration for In Kind came from learning about state-supported maternity practices in Finland.
"In Finland, every baby goes home with a box filled with supplies for the mom and the baby," she said. The program, which began in 1938, continues to give boxes to all new mothers in the country.
Berglund also was inspired by the the popularity of subscription boxes in the United States and how some of those companies offered boxes similar to those offered by the Finnish government. However, the maternity boxes offered in the United States are expensive and therefore not accessible to poorer mothers.
For In Kind to provide maternity boxes for free to lower-income moms, Berglund had to come up with a way to get enough revenue to make the donations possible, while also filling her boxes with quality products.
To help In Kind give away boxes for free, Berglund formed a partnership with Earth Mama Organics, an Oregon-based business offering a host of organic lotions, creams and balms for babies and mothers.
"Earth Mama is really awesome because they are all organic products, and ... their products are safe for baby's sensitive skin and for mothers as well," Berglund explained.
Partnerships such as these are helpful, but unlike the maternity box program in Finland, Berglund does not have the support of socialized healthcare to help allay shipping and other costs accrued by making the box.
Riding on the subscription box popularity, Berglund said In Kind "will have the boxes for sale on our website if people want to purchase them for a friend as a baby shower gift." Sales revenue will help support In Kind so that they can give free boxes to needy mothers.
"Our goal is to have it be buy one, give one, so that if you purchase one, we will donate one to a mama in need," she said. "Along with all of the baby items, we do want a few things to make mamas smile and be excited to receive the box for them, too, not just for their kids."
Some of these items include lip balm, facial masks and scrunchies.
Although the nonprofit was created just this summer, Berglund hopes to send out her first box before November. Her goal is to send out 60 to 100 boxes to needy women by the end of the year.
In Kind Boxes is run by Berglund and fellow mothers Liz Neihart, Stephanie Duncan and Cheryl Hinchliff. For more information and an opportunity to donate, visit the In Kind website.
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