Our First Mother’s Day
It all started with a donation of $100 and a word-of-mouth collection drive that generated enough women’s personal care and beauty products to fill 265 gift baskets for needy moms at three day care centers and two women’s shelters on Mother’s Day, 2001. As we soon found out – for many of the moms, this was their only Mother’s Day gift and the toiletry items were unaffordable luxuries. As one mom told us “ I treasured my Bath & Body Works lotion and used just a little bit each day to make it last”.
In our second year, area schools and a few businesses started holding Mothers Matter collection drives and we were able to give out 625 Mother’s Day gift baskets. Each year the project grew as more schools, businesses and organizations helped with collection drives as well as volunteering to help with our Mother’s Day project – sorting products and assembling gift baskets.
Within the next few years we expanded our target population to also include women in hospitals or nursing homes, women with sick children women, and various social service agencies. By 2009 we were distributing over 2,700 beautiful Mother’s Day gift baskets to women at 55 different locations. (Mothers Matter gift bags replaced baskets in 2010).
And – our wonderful, hard-working dedicated volunteers were doing all of this within a six-week period using borrowed space in a community center that had to be totally cleared out the day after Mother’s Day. It was overwhelming and we were faced with very real possibility of having to cut back or end our Mother’s Day project.
2011 – A Miracle and a Turning Point for Mothers Matter
An unexpected opportunity led to a momentous decision for the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation and a major step towards a long-awaited goal of expanding Mothers Matter to a full-time, year-round program.
We found a perfect one story building with easy access and plenty of parking to house our Mothers Matter program and in February 2011, we officially opened the doors to 3 McClure Drive in Sewell, NJ – “ Our Happy Place”
Mothers Matter Year-Round in Our New Home
The former municipal parks and recreation department building with its many small rooms was perfect for our needs and we settled in with new status as a year-round program very quickly. We started building partnerships with area cancer programs, women’s shelters and social service agencies and facilities such as Ronald McDonald House to provide custom gift bags on a regular basis throughout the year.
As example, “Comfort” gift bags for women receiving chemotherapy treatment include warm and fuzzy socks, unscented lotion, Dove soap, and our own Mothers Matter soft pillows; the gift bags we prepare for Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms for women with children in the NICU or critical care units include items such as hand lotion, playing cards, puzzle books, and writing journals.
Mothers Matter Touching Lives… Making a Difference
Throughout the year, schools, businesses, organizations and individuals hold Mothers Matter collection drives. Area Dollar Tree stores partner with the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation from March through the end of April each year with in-store Mothers Matter collection drives. We rely on product donations for about 90% of the items used to fill gift baskets. Financial donations from the 5K Run and Mothers Matter Basket Raffle help fund basket supplies and headquarters overhead.
We process between 60,000 and 75,000 products a year at Mothers Matter headquarters in Sewell (Washington Twp); each one is carefully checked to make sure it is new and clean, sorted by color and product type and either placed on shelves for immediate use or crated for temporary storage. Products we cannot use are given to women’s shelters or other agencies that can use them.
Mothers Matter volunteers assemble and distribute more than 4,200 gift bags a year. About half are distributed on Mother’s Day and the rest throughout the year. We bring Mother’s Day gifts to about 35 different locations including numerous day care centers and facilities such as Ronald McDonald House, Memorial Veterans Home, various medical-pediatric day care and rehab facilities, and women’s agencies.
Our year-round commitments include Fox Chase Cancer Center, MD Anderson at Cooper Hospital, Inspira, Minitti Center for Hematology, Penn Medicine Virtua Cancer Program, and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Hospital; numerous women’s shelters, Lourdes Community Outreach, Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice, and Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms.
Other Mothers Matter Projects
In 2012 we opened the Suited for Work Initiative, dedicating a room in Mothers Matter headquarters for a clothing showroom with work appropriate apparel for women who could not otherwise afford them. In spring, 2020, the initiative was moved to Rowan College at South Jersey and Camden County College campuses for easier access and to free up space to accommodate the increased demand for our special “Comfort” and “Spa” gift bags for cancer patients.
Mothers Matter partners with the AAWCC at Rowan College at South Jersey to host two Car Care Seminars a year at Gloucester County Institute of Technology as part of the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation Safe Travel Initiative
Our Mothers Matter Committee
The Mothers Matter Committee has been the backbone of the program since its inception. From our earliest days when we started with an empty room with no products or supplies and were able to distribute thousands of beautiful gift baskets in less than six weeks, our Mothers Matter team has always been “the little engine that could” brightening lives and making a real difference in the lives of women for whom every day is a challenge.
Mothers Matter Committee
(not all committee members are in the photo)
Linda Beach – Suited for Work Coordinator
Claire Carmody – Founding Member
Louisa Coffin-Tilsner – Founding Member
Colleen Garretson – Co- Chairperson
Patti Kelly – Co-Chairperson
Lisa Moriarty – Founding Member, LRAF Board Member
Nadine Piccolo – Suited for Work Coordinator
Susan Rose – LRAF Founder & President
Kathy Schultes – Co-Chairperson