Authentic Moms Swap Shop expands to fill needs

Next Authentic Moms Swap Shop
Friday, May 3, and
Saturday, May 4
(drop off on May 3; pick up on May 4)
Elburn Community Center
525 N. Main St., Elburn
authenticmoms@gmail.com

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—An Elgin mom whose daughter is expecting a baby visited the Authentic Moms Swap Shop at the Elburn Community Center last Saturday and told swap shop coordinator Nicole Duski, an Elburn mom, that she was hoping to find a crib for the new arrival.

Although there were no cribs in the gym, Dulski took the woman’s phone number just in case one showed up. A few hours later, a grandfather came by to say he had a crib. He returned with the crib, a brand new mattress, extra blankets and directions for how to put it together.

All that was needed was a person on their way to Elgin who could take the crib to the woman. Soon, that person came along.

“I never know how it’s going to turn out,” Dulski said. “But God does. It all works out so perfectly.”

“It” is what has become a semi-annual event at the Community Center, one swap shop in December, right before Christmas, and one in May, just in time for spring. Put on by a group of women from various churches who call themselves “the authentic moms,” the event has grown over the past couple of years, with more people coming and more people giving.

On Friday, the gymnasium was filled with neatly folded children’s clothes sorted by size, as well as toys, video games and DVDs, strollers, high chairs and car seats, many of which looked almost brand new. On Saturday, moms (and dads) were walking past the tables and looking through the items, mostly for Christmas presents for their children, or for an item that would fill a need or a want.

The difference between this and Christmas shopping scenes elsewhere is that, instead of the shoppers paying for the presents or putting them on their charge cards, they would be taking them home for free.

The swap shop began with the Christian mothers group that formed about five years ago. The women, who attend several different churches and various Bible study groups, get together on a regular basis for dinner, fellowship and to support each other as moms.

The swapping began informally, because children are always outgrowing things and moms always need things for their kids.

The group decided a few years ago to open up the swap to the wider community, Dulski said. These moms feel it is their responsibility as Christians to help others in this way. They are inspired by the scriptures that tell them to love others both in word and in deed, Elburn resident Jill Olson said.

At the top of the flyer announcing the event are the words of the Bible verse 1 John 3:16-18.

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, and yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word and talk but in deed and truth,” the verse states.

“The Christmas one is near and dear to my heart, especially during this economy, when so many people are struggling,” Duski said. “It’s definitely a group effort. There are a lot of faithful women and men who help make it happen.
We couldn’t do this without all of them.”

Long-time Elburn resident Loretta Rausch said that it is great to see the community come together in this way.

“I think it makes a lot of people realize how much they have and how much they have to give,” she said. “For me, personally, it was so wonderful to see this one young family leave with a pair of shoes that my son had outgrown. That money they would have spent is now freed up for them to buy medicine or groceries.”

Rausch explained that the rule of thumb for donations is that it should be in good enough shape that you would not be embarrassed to give to a friend.

“It’s an opportunity for families to pass on items to others that they don’t need anymore,” Dulski said. “The majority of the people who donate are just ordinary people, and when they give, they find that they get back so much more.
It’s an opportunity to love other people and the blessings that stem from there.”

She said that it’s also a chance to teach their children that it’s not all about what they have, and an opportunity to introduce another generation to the spirit of giving.

Rausch said she loves seeing the looks on the children’s faces.

“They realize that somebody cares,” she said. “How can you beat that?”