More than one group gathered in athletic gear on the Geneva lakefront this past weekend. Saturday morning, a local grassroots group held a walk-a-thon to support area families. Mothers & Others is in its fifth year of gathering essential items for area women and children in need. The group’s founder, Antje Leo, was inspired by a story she read online.
“DSS or WIC cannot cover feminine hygiene products or shampoos or any of the items that we take for granted. So, they were doing a drive that collected those items and sent them out to women’s shelters in the area. It was right before Mother’s Day and I loved that idea. They had mentioned if you can’t join them in West Virginia that you could do it on your own wherever you lived.”
The effort of one family helping another has grown in subsequent years to an ever expanding group of individuals collecting items for literally dozens of households. Lisa Gibson is a friend of Leo’s. This is her fifth year working on Mothers & Others.
“The first year it was just her solo and she wanted to help out, I think, just one family. The next year it got a little bit bigger and I helped her and it was just the two of us that year. The third year it got even bigger and now we’re on to the fifth year and we have this wonderful group of women, and others, and families, and children, and they’re helping us out. There’s this giant Facebook group. This year there’s a core group of seven or so of us that are involved in the planning part. People kind of come in here and there and help out any way they can.”
The walkers Saturday morning raised money from friends and family, but household and personal items remain at the core of the Mothers and Others efforts. The donated items are collected into gently used handbags for the mothers and backpacks for their children.
“The reason that we do backpacks and handbags is that they do last longer. When you get two trash bags of your own things to take out of your home, it gives you a subhuman feeling. So, for that matter, we wanted to do something permanent.”
In keeping with Mothers & Others grassroots nature, Saturday morning’s walk-a-thon was a modest affair with about a dozen walkers and supporters coming out.
The Seneca7 folks did pitch in as well. Race organizers and participants gathered a large collection of bags and other donations to Mothers & Others at the Smith Opera House.
More information is available on their Facebook Group.