A small room in the New River Community Action office in Pulaski is filled with baby items and big hopes of helping children. "We can't furnish all of it but sometimes we can just help ease that burden for the moment," said Diane Wise.
Wise works with CHIP, the Children's Health Improvement Partnership of New River Valley. It promotes child wellness and helps income eligible families become healthy and self-sufficient. But during home visits, Wise says she found many families were distracted. "It's really hard to gauge parents when they're worried about not having diapers or formula, the very basics."
That's where the Baby Shop comes in. The Pulaski location is now open. CHIPS's first store made a difference for families in Giles County.
Mandy Trussell was a single mother. "I was a single mother struggling," she said. Now that her single daughter has a son of her own, Mandy says she's relieved her daughter has help. "It's kind of nice not to see her struggle."
Mandy says it's also made a difference for her grandson. "I think he's grown up healthier because of the extra support."
Wise says the Baby Shop runs on donations. Everything from diapers to formula, toys, clothes and even the racks they hang on are donated to give parents the shopping experience they can't otherwise get, free of charge. "It really did help engage the parents and our home visits were so much more productive."
CHIP offers a number of services and programs for children and works in 30 Virginia communities. CHIP NRV recently received a Baby First grant to help educate parents on newborn screenings.