Help Ukrainian Parents by Donating Baby Carriers
Parents know that keeping their babies close to them is vital, and a baby carrier for their baby provides support for their child and helps them multi-task—a convenience that can easily be taken for granted.
That’s why Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, Adriane Stare, 41, is helping to support We Carry Ukraine, a social media group organized by volunteer moms across the country to help provide hands-free baby carriers to parents and caregivers leaving Ukraine.
For Ukraine families, a baby carrier can be a small relief that means so much to parents who are fleeing their embattled country for safety. A wearable baby carrier can free their hands to hold basic-needs items, or even the hands of older children, while boarding a train. It can make a stressful and frightening experience just a little less daunting.
Psst…these charities are also helping Ukraine, How to Help Ukraine Right Now.
Stare is a certified baby-wearing expert and runs adrianestare.com, a website about baby-wearing education and similar topics. Throughout her career, Stare has given many classes to new parents on how to wear hands-free carriers. She’s very passionate about the importance of baby carriers, so after coming across We Carry Ukraine online, she knew right away she wanted to help.
“I saw in the group that they were trying to solicit carriers, and of course I reached out immediately because I’ve done this before. I’ve collected carriers during other humanitarian crises. There have been so many times when carriers have been needed,” Stare said.
Stare, a mother of two boys, has been traveling around Brooklyn collecting carriers for the cause. She also organized a drop-off point at The Wild in Greenpoint, which is a store she formerly owned as Caribou Baby and Wild Was Mama. Some donaters have mailed her carriers directly as well..
As one might imagine, shipping boxes packed with carriers is no easy feat. Through UPS, paid for by donations, Stare is able to get the carriers overseas and into the hands of on-site baby-wearing educators in the region—many of whom are connections made through social media.
“It’s a really complex process from start to finish, but it’s a beautiful thing to see images and photos of families receiving and using the carriers,” she said.
About We Carry Ukraine
The We Carry Ukraine group was started by Natalie Vowell, 39, of St. Louis, Mo., almost as soon as the conflict in the region broke out about a month ago. She knew there would be many collections for diapers and other everyday items, but was struck by media images of parents holding their babies or pushing strollers while fleeing the country.
“There are so many things that refugees need when they’re fleeing a war zone. But if it’s something that can readily be found in a thrift store, the locals already have it covered,” Vowell, who’s a mom herself, said. “Baby carriers are a little bit more narrow. For me, seeing these images of caregivers fleeing is striking—shocking almost.”
Parents from across the country from states including New York, New Jersey, California and Missouri have mailed more than 100 carriers to Vowell’s home in St. Louis. And of course, more have been collected from Stare and other volunteers nationwide.
Coordinating donations from different parts of the United States to regions surrounding a war-torn area isn’t easy. Vowell and several other moms who joined the group have to make sure the carriers that they send are arriving efficiently and in the right locations.
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t sending a bunch of junk that people didn’t need. We didn’t want to be sending carriers to random addresses near the border of the country,” Vowell said. “We had to work really hard to make sure we got the right contacts on the ground.”
Through the lines of social media, the We Carry Ukraine volunteers connected with baby-wearing experts on the ground in Poland. These experts receive the shipments, but also provide quick lessons to caregivers on how to use the carriers.
“There are baby-wearing instructors teaching moms who have never thought a baby carrier might be relevant to them. They are teaching them how to use the carriers—and teaching them quickly. Crossing at a border, they’re giving 15-minute instructions, showing them how to use the carrier safely and effectively.”
How to Help
Currently, The Wild drop-off location is on pause so Adriane can have time to ship the 50-75 carrier batch she’s collected so far.
Anyone interested in donating a carrier, contributing to shipping costs or would like to get involved in another capacity can visit the group’s Facebook page, We Carry Ukraine. There is also a form on the page that people can fill in if they’d like to make a carrier donation.
Vowell said she hasn’t set up a formal nonprofit or website in hopes the war ends soon.
“I hope this is a very short-term need,” she said. “I hope these people are able to return to their homes, what is left of them, and there is not a continued mass exodus from their homeland that continues to create a need for baby carriers.”