Central Ohio organization aims to address infant mortality through free store

An average of 35 families per week go through Little Bottoms Free Store
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (10TV) -- Every week, two to three babies die in Franklin County before their first birthday, according to the City of Columbus. Now, one organization on the city's west side is working to change that.

Little Bottoms Free Store held its grand opening in March. Since then, they've been able to help about 300 families. The store in Franklinton gives families with children under three years old and pregnant women diapers, wipes, and clothing to take home for free.

"We give out the diapers, and the wipes, and the clothes mostly as an incentive to build relationships with people because we all need support," said Pastor Allyssa Graves from Little Bottoms Free Store. "We all need those relationships in our lives that are just going to be there no matter what."

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Graves said their mission is to help combat infant mortality by giving pregnant women the resources they need to keep themselves and their babies healthy.

"It's hard not to get involved in something that can prevent our babies on the west side from not making it to their first birthday," she said.

Shakira Marshall said she started coming to the store when she was four months pregnant. Now, her daughter is about one month old.

"When I leave here, I'll be ready to come back the next week," Marshall said. "I love this place!"

The store is always in need of donations. They ask for new or gently used clothing (sizes 3T-6T), diapers, wipes, and financial donations.

"Finishing up our first year of being open, we're really looking at how we can make this sustainable for the future," Graves said.

If you would like to help with their mission, click here.

The free store is open every Thursday from 6:30 - 8 p.m., except for holidays. They are located at 89 West Park Avenue.

To become a member, pregnant women must provide a photo ID, ultrasound, or medical bill showing prenatal appointment. Families with children three years old or younger must provide a photo ID and birth certificate of children, or medical bill showing caregiver's or child's name, or referral from an agency.

Little Bottoms Free Store is the ministry of Central City Church, a United Methodist Church, done in partnership with West Park UMC, Bottoms Up Coffee, CelebrateOne and other neighborhood partners.