When Giovanna Andrews was 21 years old, and about to enter her last semester of college, she found out she was pregnant. But with the help of a crisis pregnancy center and close family members, Andrews was able to finish school and graduate on time, and two months later, she gave birth to her daughter, Isabella Harper Andrews.
Andrews has never forgotten the kindness so many showed her when she struggled financially and emotionally as a young mom.
When Isabella was barely sitting up, Andrew felt inspired to start giving back. So this past summer she launched Harper’s Heart – her personal charity which aims to support the needs of expecting mothers and mothers with children age 0-24 months.
With contributions from others in the community, Harper’s Heart helps young families obtain essentials such as diapers, wipes, blankets, clothing, and infant furniture.
On a cold day in January, Andrews took her program to Kingswood Community Center where she held a “Thousand Diaper Giveaway.”
But Kingswood Community Center Community Engagement Coordinator Shardae White says the demand was so high – more than 100 people formed a line that wrapped around the room, stretched into the lobby and out the door of the facility – that the event ultimately became the 2,500-diaper giveaway.
“That day was so, so cold, and we didn’t think many would show up. But instead, the response was fantastic,” said White. “After just 30 minutes, we had to stop and load back up. She [Giovanna Andrews] actually went and got more Pampers and came back because the need was so overwhelming.”
Andrews has distributed diapers and other baby essentials at other events, including Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki’s Wilmington Love event, Christiana Hospital’s Community Baby Shower, and Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children’s Community Baby Shower.
But this was Andrews’ first event all of her own and she chose to visit Kingswood – the epicenter for families with young in Wilmington’s Riverside community. There she and her team of volunteers decorated the room with balloons and filled tables with so many goodies for needy families: stacks of 25-50 diapers (of all sizes) tied with pretty bows, free blankets, bibs, chairs, pillows, onesies, shoes, socks, coats, dresses, pants, shirts, hats, towels, bathrobes, diaper bags, and furniture accessories all placed neatly on tables where people could come take what they pleased.
There was even a “Mommy Station” for young mothers to pick up free health care and beauty items. “It was such a great day filled with smiles, laughter, love and joy all around,” said Andrews.
Fathers, grandparents, single mothers, even a busload of women from a shelter came to Kingswood that day. “Everyone was just truly so thankful. She’s really provided something big. So simple – but so important to these young families,” remarked White.
Some families had special requests for little boys and girls. So White and Harper took down the names and particulars and plans to follow up with each and every request. “We have been blessed that the donations have come pouring in,” said Andrews.
For Andrews, the effort is much more than filling a family’s need for their baby or toddler. “We want to inject a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. We want these families and young moms to know that even if they feel alone like I once did, they have someone rooting for them. It is so important to me as a mom to teach my daughter the value of giving, because when she was a tiny peanut in my belly, someone – a lot of people – loved her so much. So now it’s my turn to give back.”
Harper’s Heart will be hosting events in the future. People can follow us them on Instagram @Harpers_Heart or join our email list [email protected]. They are always looking for new donations of new and gently used items for children 0-24-month-old.