There are millions of children living in poverty in the United States and many of them are right here in the Quad Cities. With it getting harder and harder for parents to make ends meet, one local woman decided to take things into her own hands - starting a children's pantry.
Nicole Burns is the founder of the Little Hearts Children's Pantry in Davenport. She says she struggled to make ends meet when her boys were little, so she vowed that as soon as she was able, she would try and help parents in the same situation.
For the last two years, Burns has been running the pantry out of her garage. She said, when she first started her children's pantry, she had no idea how quickly it would grow.
"When I started I figured I would help maybe 20 to 30 people. I am at 414 in less than two years, and that is a lot of kids in this area, and I am sure that doesn't even begin to touch the amount of kids in this area that need help," she said.
Every nook and cranny in Burns' garage is filled with toys, strollers, or tubs full of clothes.
All of the items were either donated by people who heard about the pantry through word-of-mouth or are things she bought herself at yard sales.
"Sometimes you get more donations than you can handle and other times you go for weeks or a month or so and don't get anything," Burns said.
Families in need come to her, and she gives them what she can for free. Diapers, baby wipes, and formula go especially fast.
"I think everybody is overwhelmed to some extent because it is a hard thing to reach out and admit when you have nothing for your kids," she explained.
The mother of two and full time daycare provider says even though collecting, storing, and cleaning the donations (she's done 32 loads of laundry in the past 2 days) is no easy task, she loves to see how big of a difference one person can make.
"It's definitely the most rewarding work I have done in my life. Just to see a simple smile on a moms face when she knows 'now my kid has boots or she has a coat so she can play outside in the snow,'" she said.
"The feeling is indescribable."
Burns says she would like to see the pantry continue to grow and one day be able to set-up shop in a building or church.
She says she is always in need of donations. She collects items for everyone from newborns to adults.
To find out how you can help just click the following link: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Little-Hearts-Childrens-Pantry/261613630550194?fref=ts