Thousands of empty plastic baby bottles will be distributed to those attending Mother’s Day services at more than 100 local churches Sunday morning, and it is a certainty that the vast majority of those receiving bottles do not have infants at home who still are fed from a bottle.
But the bottles being distributed Sunday are not expected to be used for feeding. Instead, it is hoped area residents will fill their bottles with loose change during the next month and return to church on Father’s Day on June 16 with bottles full of money for the Two Hearts Pregnancy Care Centers in Ashland and Coal Grove, Ohio.
If things go as well in 2013 as they have in past years, the annual Mother’s Day-to-Father’s Day baby bottle campaign will fund the bulk of the programs at the to pregnancy care centers for the next year, said Sandy Bellomy, Two Hearts executive director.
“This is what funds Two Hearts,” said Bellomy of the baby bottle campaign. “We base our budget on this campaign.”
With the exception of funds from the annual United Way campaign, several local churches and some individuals, Two Hearts has no other funding sources in which to offer its free services to women from the time they become pregnant until their infant reaches his or her first birthday, Bellomy said.
Fortunately, because the annual campaign has such broad community support, it is a successful one. Last year, 8,316 bottles containing loose change were turned in by members of participating churches on Father’s Day, generating more than $60,000.
While most of the bottles are filled with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, some also include checks and bills, Bellomy said.
And then there are the unusual items found in the change. “Some poor fellow managed to lose his wedding ring in the bottle of change,” Bellomy said, adding that teeth, bullets and other unusual items also have been found in the bottle. “And we get lots and lots of rubber bands,” she said.
More than 350 new clients have received prenatal care and counseling at Two Hearts in the last year. The typical client is between the ages of 14 and 17, but the center has helped pregnant girls as young as 12 up to women in their 50s, Bellomy said.
Those who attend Two Hearts’ “Earn While You Learn” program receive “baby bucks” which can be used to purchase items for newborns from the “Bundles of Joy” rooms at the centers, Bellomy said. Two Hearts also has a dads’ program that attempts to establish link between the newborn infants and their fathers because most of the pregnant women at the center are not married and many of the fathers are teens. The center also has an abstinence program offered in most area schools and a grief program for those who have lost a baby, Bellomy said.
Even if they don’t fill the baby bottles with change, Bellomy hopes those who take bottles Sunday will return them on Father’s Day. About 50 cases of bottles — or 1,800 bottles — distributed on Mother’s Day are never returned to Two Hearts, she said. Each bottle costs about 62 cents, and having to replace so many gets expensive, said the executive director.
“We don’t know what happens to all those bottles,” Bellomy said. “We sent them out and never see them again. If nothing else, we ask that those who take bottles return them. Replacing so many bottles is expensive. Of course, we prefer bottles filled with money.”
JOHN CANNON be reached at
email@example.com or at (606) 326-2649.