A Whidbey nonprofit is launching a pilot project that allows the parents of infants and young children to shop for their kids at little to no cost.
The first day of operation is this Saturday, Feb. 13.
Mother Mentors of Whidbey Island, an organization focused on providing emotional support and practical care to parents, is opening a parent pantry for caregivers in need to choose a number of items for their children.
The service is either free of charge or by donation, and no requirements need to be met and no questions will be asked.
Parents can find formula, diapers, baby carriers and portable cribs. High-quality items such as cloth reusable diapers, nursery decor and breast pumps are also available.
Sarah Santosa, a member of the organization’s board, helped design the “boutique” space in the South Whidbey Elementary School where parents will be able to come twice a month to shop.
Child-sized mannequins sporting fashionable tiny clothes, shelves full of colorful toys, chalkboard art and goodie bags full of menstrual products and beauty supplies are just a few features of the new Parent Pantry space.
Santosa pointed out children’s hand-knitted hats and blankets, made by community members, as being one of her favorite things in the store.
“I just feel like they’re so unique and special as well as brand-new so you can really feel like you have a little heirloom for your kiddo, even if you are far away from family,” she said.
All items on display were collected over the last two months. There is even overstock available for parents who are looking for a particular size.
Volunteer shopkeepers will be keeping track of what items are most popular and what sizes are most in demand.
The goal of the Parent Pantry, Santosa explained, is to extend beyond just a rack of clothes and a toy section. Besides the plethora of aforementioned products, parents can also find child safety items and brand-new baby bottles, something Santosa said she hasn’t seen in the stores around South Whidbey.
“Annoyingly expensive things,” such as shoes and socks, are also available, Santosa said.
The Mother Mentors Parent Pantry is open to all Whidbey residents every second and fourth Saturday of the month at 5476 Maxwelton Road, the South Whidbey Elementary School South Campus. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Hopefully those hours cover all different kinds of naps,” Santosa said with a laugh.