Local businesses, individuals create gift bags for mothers in need
Over a dozen volunteers gathered to make Mother’s Day gift bags for local mothers in need at St. Agnes Catholic Church’s Parish Office on May 9.
The gift bags, which included everything from deodorant to soap to food, were given to mothers at Shenandoah Women’s Center, Bethany House and the Young Lives Teen Mothers Support Group in Martinsburg.
“Some of them aren’t homeless, but they’re pretty poor,” said event coordinator Michelle Kwiatkowski, owner of the Wild Rose Soap Company. “For a lot of the teen mothers group, it’s their first Mother’s Day, so they’ll be getting perfume and nail polish.”
Kwiatkowski, who organized the event for the fourth year, said she donated washcloths and soap for the gift bags.
Abby Landon, of Shepherdstown, brought her sister, Brenna Malone, to help out.
“I’m a mother myself, so I thought it was really neat to help other young mothers this way,” said Landon, who donated deoderants last year.
Niki Postuka, who is here for three weeks while her husband teaches at the Customs Border Patrol Academy, met Kwiatkowski at the motel where they were both staying. When Kwiatkowski mentioned the event, Postuka volunteered to help.
“My father was in the military, and I’ve been around the world and seen the poverty,” Postuka, who is from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, said. “It kind of makes you appreciate life.”
Kwiatkowski shared similar thoughts about the event.
“For me, helping with events like this puts things into perspective,” she said, referring to the electrical fire that destroyed the majority of her family’s belongings and required her home’s interior to be completely renovated over the past few months.
Mountaineer Popcorn Company owner Erin Valasek, who brought her three girls ages 7, 8 and 11 to help stuff the gift bags, said the event was a good way to teach them about volunteering.
“Our kids are homeschooled, so I think this is good for community service and reaching out,” said Valasek.
“We are very fortunate, and I wanted to teach them that. They have no idea what it would be like to have no shampoo or cookies,” she added. Valasek donated the bags for the event, and said her German Street store was also a donation drop-off.
Kwiatkowski said her family will be moving back into the renovated house this week, but the donation event was a good way to distract herself in the meantime.
“We have a house, even though it’s been destroyed. It makes us realize, even though we’ve gone through this, how wonderful it is to be alive,” she said. “Helping other people helps take your mind off of yourself.”