For years people have been leaving all manner of baby things on Fiona Dill’s veranda — cribs, clothing, toys, double strollers.
Dutifully, the longtime doula would wash them up and find a home with a needy parent or put them into storage.
“Then I realised that my front hall started looking like a storage room in and of itself,” she said, adding that all the cleaning and scrubbing was taking up her valuable time. “I was glad to do it, but I have a busy life.”
Three weeks ago she created It Takes A Village Bermuda, a Facebook group connecting parents with people who have baby items to give away.
In just a few weeks it has attracted more than 570 members. Ms Dill, who believes that Covid-19 has increased the need in the community, is thrilled that the Facebook page has allowed her to expand her reach.
“It has been an amazing journey, but I feel like I have not always reached those who need things most or have had the time to make the most of what has been given,” she said. “Recently, I have stopped taking donations due to time and space constraints and have responded to needs, as they have arisen and as they have been made known to me.”
Community health nurses and charity workers often come to her when they discover a parent in need of items for their child.
“But I have realised, as I have seen the success of other groups, that there may be the possibility of another forum where those who want to give can be matched to those who have a genuine need,” she said. “I hope this group can fulfil that.”
Ms Dill said so far activity on the Facebook group has been “fast and furious”.
“People have donated a lot of clothing,” she said. “There have been quite a lot of diapers and wipes. People probably bought a lot of a certain size of diaper and then their babies grew out of them.
“We have had walkers, cribs, strollers, double strollers. A lot of stuff has been well used but still has a lot of life in it.”
With six children of her own, Ms Dill quickly developed an aversion to waste.
She has kept most of the items she has been given over the years, restoring them when necessary so they can be used again.
A nurse recently asked for toys for an 11-month-old boy.
“I went on to the Facebook group and posted,” Ms Dill said. “A lot of people donated. Sometimes they gave new toys because some people have far too much. One person said I am just going to give money.
“They said they would give it to the mother so that she has the agency to make her own choices for her own child. Being given stuff is fine, but there is nothing quite like buying stuff yourself for your baby.”
In another case a mother gave a new crib from a high-end brand.
“The company sent the wrong crib,” she said. “Afterward, they told the customer to just give it to someone else, rather than send it back. That would have been a very expensive item. It was beautiful. It went to someone who needed it.”
One of the challenges with the group is evaluating whether people looking for items are genuinely in need. Ms Dill asks anyone who can, to make a donation to Family Centre, the Coalition for Protection of Children or a similar charity.
“I am relying on people’s goodwill and honesty,” she said.
Even donors benefit; the group gives them a way of getting rid of items they no longer need, quickly.
“I have told donors if you are able to take it to the person then do that too,” she said, mindful that some people don’t have their own transportation.
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