'Moms Helping Moms' provide for their babies

CNN Hero: Bridget Cutler
CNN Hero: Bridget Cutler

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    CNN Hero: Bridget Cutler

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CNN Hero: Bridget Cutler 01:44

Story highlights

  • Moms Helping Moms was born when Bridget Cutler met moms in need in her community
  • The nonprofit got its start when Cutler held a garage sale in which all items were free
  • Since 2011, it has distributed diapers, clothes, nursing supplies and other baby gear
  • Donated new or gently used items go to homeless moms, teen moms and families in need

New Providence, New Jersey (CNN)Bridget Cutler was still adjusting to being a new mom when she read a magazine article that changed her life.

"It was about a mother who decided to give her child up for adoption because she couldn't stand to hear her crying from hunger," Cutler remembered. "I just thought that no mother should ever be faced with that choice."
It can cost close to $250,000 to raise a child in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- and that is just for the basics. It's especially tough for families in New Jersey, where one in eight people struggle to make ends meet.
    Bridget Cutler and her volunteers solicit donations of new or gently used baby items to be given to parents in need.
    The following day, Cutler called her "mom friends" and started collecting gently used baby items.
    "I had the intention, originally, of finding a local organization to donate them to that would benefit my neighbors," said Cutler, 34.
    When she did not find what she was looking for, Cutler's idea for Moms Helping Moms was born. Since 2011, the nonprofit has distributed diapers, clothing, nursing supplies and other baby essentials for hundreds of infants and toddlers in New Jersey.
    "So many people have such an abundance, and so many others strive to afford even the basics," Cutler said. "What we're doing is trying to bridge that gap."
    A fair start in life
    Moms Helping Moms started with one garage sale that Cutler held at her home -- except everything was free. The drive was a success, and she met many mothers in need and many mothers who wanted to help her build the organization.
    Today, Cutler and her volunteers solicit donations of new or gently used baby items in their neighborhoods.
    Cutler knows that it can be difficult for some parents to part with their children's things.
    "I wanted to assure these people who were donating so generously to us that these things were absolutely going into hands that needed them," she said.
    Cutler finds recipients through social workers and other nonprofits. She works with homeless mothers, teen moms and families who have fallen on hard times and just need a boost.
    Jasmine Harding suffered complications during her last pregnancy. The mother of three was out of work for nearly 10 months, and she and her partner struggled to afford everything they needed.
    "I never thought that I would be in this position. I've had a job since I was 16," Harding said. "I'm their mom, and I should be able to do whatever it is that I need to do for them."
    Basic needs and beyond
    At a recent Moms Helping Moms event, Harding received clothing, diapers and a stroller. Now she is able to push her 3-month-old daughter to day care before heading to her new job.
    For families like Harding's, the drives are not just about getting free baby gear. They provide an opportunity to get financially back on their feet.
    "New clothes, diapers and wipes, they're a constant expense," Harding said. "With the things that I got today, that will allow me to put that money towards something else, like my rent or my bills."
    Cutler and her group aim to provide more than just goods to the moms they serve. Volunteers offer support and guidance, giving recipients a sense of community they may not otherwise have.
    For Cutler, a mother of two, running this nonprofit truly is a labor of love. She recently left her job to devote more time to her group's efforts.
    "Every child deserves all the same things in life. They deserve all of the basics," Cutler said. "If what we're doing helps bridge the gap between people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, even in a small way, then it's definitely worth all the hard work."
    Want to get involved? Check out the Moms Helping Moms website at www.momshelpingmomsfoundation.org and see how to help.