COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dozens of mothers were given essential products for their children, Sunday, as a part of a local church's community baby shower.
Addressing community needs is the simple goal for Betti Ann Bernard and Mildred Vanderpuije. They are members of Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Columbia and, with a week until Mother's Day, they helped host a community baby shower for mothers in Columbia. Vanderpuije said it's a geographic area that makes motherhood even harder.
"It's a desert, we don't have a lot of grocery stores in our area, so that is hard for mother first and foremost," she said. "A lot of our community is filled with single mothers, and even mothers who may have families, they don't have the resources."
According to Keith Woodard, the pastor at Ephesus, the church held a conference a few years ago where hundreds of people showed up and voiced concerns and described hardships in their community.
"We saw a gap or an opportunity. It was established after we saw that," Woodard said. "It was observed and there's a lack of resources in this zip code."
He said that spurred conversations about how to serve the community and thus the creation of the community baby shower.
The church partnered with the congregation and organizations like Prisma Health, the Richland County Sheriff's Department, and the Columbia-Richland Fire Department to collect donations that were given out to any parent that showed up.
Families had an array of products to choose from, including diapers, clothing, food, cleaning and laundry supplies, and even some books. Throughout the afternoon, moms came through the church and picked up their gifts. Vanderpuije said they were able to bless over 60 mothers in just a few hours. A strong showing, she said, will result in even more events moving forward.
"We will be doing it every year, every single year," she added. "This is one of our ministries that we are going to be continuing."
She said Sunday's event offers more than just diapers and clothes, it creates a chance to build relationships with the community and spread the gospel.
"Before we can even spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have to spread the gospel through our service," Vanderpuije said. "That is what we do, that is what we stand for."
Ephesus said anyone in need who wasn't able to attend the event Sunday afternoon can reach out to the church through Facebook.