They Came, They Played, They Donated


Imagine a blogger event with corporate sponsors.  Logos everywhere.  Fun activities for the kids, entertainment, and great food.  Networking opportunities.  I’ve been to dozens of parties like that and I never paid attention to the sponsors or gave a second thought to why they were involved or how the event planners were able to get them on board.  Oh sure, I know all too well how brands want to get their products and information in front of social media influencers and the moms who control their family budgets, but I had never stopped to think about how or why this actually manifested in a sponsorship. Now I understand. I got involved with Help a Mother Out in late spring, and my first big event finally took place on Sunday, December 13.  It was a fabulous playdate at the wondrous Treehouse Social Club – a spot where kids can frolic and parents can relax  in a stylized setting while enjoying fresh dishes and drinks from the kitchen.  On this day, the club rolled out its finest fare for the crowd that gathered to play, snack, get glittery tattoos, make treasure boxes, dance, and sing, all for the price of a pack of diapers. The agenda for the afternoon was packed.  Musician David Tobocman arrived early to set up the sound system for the entertainment.  Birdie Mendoza and her guitarist took the stage first, adding a “spicy” vibe to the party.  David himself played his “Very Helpful Songs” later on, and then in the last hour, comedienne Kerri Pomarolli skillfully emceed the door prize giveaway.

Birdie takes the stage

The menu included mini potato latkes in honor of Hannukah, peanut butter & jelly donuts, fruit kabobs, and of course, Pepperidge Farms’ Goldfish.  Dessert was provided by Yvonne Condes of Yvonne’s Gluten Free Goodies.  You do NOT miss the gluten in these treats – they are divine.  Since I was in charge of throwing this party, wine was served as well.  One Hope Wine, a company that sends part of their proceeds to charity, donated a case of red and white wine each.  There was none left over, so I’d say it was a hit.

Savvy Sassy Andrea

The crowd was heavy with local bloggers and social media influencers, including several members of Los Angeles Moms Blog, to which I am a contributor.  (Their presence at this first of hopefully many events was fitting since my involvement with HAMO stemmed from that fateful conference call with Katie Couric.)  Andrea of Savvy Sassy Moms enjoyed a ride on the slide, Lee of Moms Without Blogs rejoiced when her daughter won the Disney basket door prize, and Jennifer of The Vacation Gals made new friends.

Jessica Gottlieb and Stephen Johnson

Sponsors and supporters made appearances, too:  Jessica Gottliebarrived to introduce international Twitter friend Stephen Johnson to the mom-bloggerati, Lolita Carrico‘s kids rocked the tattoos, and HAMO supporter Tiffany Romero of SITS was so moved by the event that she’ll be accepting diaper donations in lieu of birthday gifts at her next celebration.  Even celebrated homeless advocate and social media superstar Mark Horvath showed up to lend his support.  Los Angeles photographer William Marc Salsberry captured the spirit of the event with his unique style – the full photo set can be seen on Flickr

Lolita gets crafty

Mark Horvath

None of this would have happened without the sponsors.  Help a Mother Out is not a large organization.  We’re not even a non-profit yet.  We’re just a bunch of moms whose hearts break when we hear stories about mothers who have to choose between rent and diapers, or food and diapers, sometimes leaving babies in soiled diapers for far too long.  We have no budget or funding, we simply urge people to donate diapers either by dropping them at a collection point or donating directly to our partnering agencies through the Amazon wish lists we created.  When I took on the task of producing an event with no money, I was overwhelmed.

But Help a Mother Out is, quite simply, a Great Idea.  The founders saw a glaring need and devised an easy way to answer it.  People recognize that.  All I really had to do was keep talking about it and reach the right ears. Huggies got the ball rolling by donating cash for me to get started (and later, two giant boxes of baby bibs and a fortune in coupons).  Then I approached my online community and offered the opportunity for the brands or companies they know to get involved.  That was when blogger Jessica GottliebLabel Daddy, Pepperidge Farms’ Fishful, publicistStephanie Smirnov and L.E.G. Productions became sponsors, too.  The more I talked about the project, the more people were willing to spread the word, and over the last few months I have received more supplies for the shelters –  Tampax tampons, Always maxi pads, Johnson & Johnson baby care products, bibs, baby towels – and many offers of help.

Once the date was set, I had to get the word out.  Jennifer Vides helped with PR.  Marsha Takeda-Morrison designed a lovely invitation and a button for displaying on websites.  Several fellow bloggers posted notices about the event, or wrote about it in their publications.  And countless people tweeted about it, reaffirming my belief that Twitter is a tool that can and should be used for good.  Throughout the planning process, although there were setbacks and challenges, these offers of support and involvement from members of the community gave me reminders that I was doingsomething, not just talking about it.  The charge I felt at the moments when I realized this was amazing and helped me move forward.

When the day of the event arrived, the day all of my work was to pay off, the unthinkable happened. I became extremely ill, unable to even get out of bed.  At that time, I needed my community’s help to execute the Playdate, not simply to show up and donate diapers.  I was worried that it would all go awry, but I must applaud my friends and associates for picking up the ball in my place, because they did a fantastic job.

The HAMO Holiday Playdate

Tania and her daughter

Publicist Jennifer Vides stepped in as producer.  Help a Mother Out co-founder Lisa Truong, who had traveled down to Los Angeles from the Bay Area, jumped right in with only a few hours’ notice to accept the diapers and tell people about HAMO and what we do.  See her interview on MomTV.  Tania Reuben, the blogger behindPure Natural Diva, became “Kim for a day” and picked up supplies from my house to deliver to the venue, received guests, guided the flow of events, and distributed tickets for the door prize drawing.  Fellow LA Moms Blog contributor Sarah Auerswald supported the hosting duties after having been given the instruction to “be my twin.”  And everyone there who could tweet from their phones sent me messages of support throughout the day.  My absence seemed to make everyone come together in a touching echo of the “Help a Mother Out” mission.  I swear it was not intentional.

At the end of the day, we had collected 3,872 diapers!  Think about it.  That’s incredible.  With additional funds of almost $600 raised online to purchase even more diapers, and Huggies’ pledge of a matching donation, we can contribute up to 10,000 diapers to be used by PATH Achieve Glendaleand Ocean Park Community Center.  The families who come to them for help will receive very crucial help in caring for their babies.  All because of our sponsors, our supporters, and our generous donors.  Los Angeles, may this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Door Prize Donors:

Turner Classic Movies – a giant basket of goodies, thanks to Elise Crane Derby

Heather Fish Studio – beautifully crafted handmade products

Eyes, Lips, Face Cosmetics – a smorgasbord of different makeup kits

PBS Kids – 2 copies of Curious George’s A Very Monkey Christmas

Firefly Vodka – a bottle of peach flavored sweet tea vodka and 2 t-shirts

Label Daddy – $50 gift card

If you are interested in donating diapers in Los Angeles, you can drop them off at The Treehouse Social Club, which has agreed to be our very first drop bin location!  Alternatively, please visit the Southern California page to click through to the Amazon wish lists.  Choose an item and purchase, and it will be shipped directly to the agency, with a tax write-off for you.