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'30,000 kids and 10 years later, here we are': Helping Hand-Me-Downs continues to help St. Louis families

"Our biggest need is really filling up orders for social service agencies," the Executive Director says.

ELLISVILLE, Mo. — Our 'A Way Forward' series focuses on the organizations and programs in our area that are making an impact.

This week, we highlight a non-profit called Helping Hand-Me-Downs. It's trying to bring stability to families.

In 2011, Helping Hand-Me-Downs grew out of necessity. 

Executive Director, Stephanie Suljak, saw there was a need. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, she looked for answers on where some gaps were.  

"I spoke to about 40 different social service agencies, hospitals, nurses, different folks and asked what they would like to see happen in St. Louis," she explains. 

That's when the organization came to life. Suljak learned many families leaving the hospital weren't prepared for what's to come. Many didn't have clothes or a crib.

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"We are essentially working with families that have brand new babies coming home and don’t have the supplies for those kiddos," she adds. "I’ve been called to St. Mary’s before to work with a young mom, who didn’t have a crib and they were teaching her to put her baby to sleep in a laundry basket," Suljak explains.

A vast majority of clients are single parents experiencing unemployment in the greater St. Louis area.

The goal is to give a helping hand to families.

"We do things from basic as clothing shoes, coats to beds, to cribs," she says. 

And that hand continues to extend. The organization provides more than urgent needs. It offers long-term assistance, too, from coaching and housing programs, to rent assistance, to furniture delivery.

"It wasn’t what we originally started out to do, but we’re covering those families, we need to cover all the needs. 30,000 kids and 10 years later here we are," Suljak said.

With extra help, the nonprofit can open even more doors for others.

"Our biggest need is really filling up orders for social service agencies. We need clothing, really size 3T and up, we need a lot of pull ups!" she says. 

Monetary donations are also a way to pay for its space.

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In order to get help, families must be referred by someone in their referring agency. A list of all of the agencies are here

The top 10 referral partners in 2016 were Nurses for Newborns Foundation, Signature Medical Group, Missouri Head Start, St. Louis County Department of Public Health, St. Louis Crisis Nursery, BJC Healthcare, Home State Health, Queen of Peace Center, Birthright Counseling St. Louis, and St. Louis Children's Division.

The organization works with over 150 social workers in the area.

If you need one, you can call 314-919-6999 and volunteers can help you find one.

If you'd like to donate, click here. Beyond money, for any other donations, there is a drop box for outside of 16225 Westwoods Business Park Drive, Ellisville, MO 63021.

Credit: KSDK

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