2020 has been a grueling year and some families have been affected more than others with the loss of jobs due to COVID-19. Local Facebook group, Burbank Mommies, has helped to collect over 200 Christmas gift donations in order to help 25 families this holiday season. The annual Gift Giving program, created and facilitated by member Jacquelynn Remery-Pearson, has provided gifts to 43 Burbank children.
Burbank Mommies is a community Facebook group administrated by Ashley Erikson, Natasha Coughlin and Kamalina Evans, as a way to bring mothers together in order to provide outreach and support. Remery-Pearson came up with the idea in 2015 and approached Erikson after seeing a string of posts from local moms asking about free or discounted gifts with the fear that they would have nothing under the tree for their children. “We set it up in such a way that anyone in the group could request gifts and we would have multiple drop offs depending on the holiday celebrated,” said Remery-Pearson. “It was important to us that no one had to qualify. It was purely the honor system because if you are struggling it’s tough enough without someone asking you to justify your need.”
After the deadline to request gifts was closed, a sign up was posted in the Burbank Mommies group, keeping the names of the families anonymous, but posting the ages and gift ideas. All 43 children were sponsored by members of the Burbank Mommies group. In years past, the Gift Giving program saw about 10-15 families in need, but this year they saw a huge spike with 25 families, and still all of them were sponsored within days of being posted. “While every year I was warmed by the response, this year I have been completely awestruck by the magnitude of giving. Someone donated a keyboard, others bikes, others huge boxes filled with toys,” added Remery-Pearson. “It blew me away that each person shopped for the child they sponsored the way they would shop for their own child.”
Once the gifts are dropped off, Remery-Pearson works tirelessly, organizing them, wrapping them, labeling them and then dropping them off to the families. She brings in her parents and husband who help to wrap the gifts, but she delivers them herself to keep the families as confidential as possible. Her firm, Remery Law, contributes grocery gift cards for each family as well.
Burbank Mommies plans to keep the program going each year as long as there are families in need of the help. “I am so proud of the group and all of the wonderful moms who have purchased and donated gifts. It brings so much joy and hope in a time that feels so difficult,” says Erikson, who also uses her house as a drop off location for the gifts. Thanks to the Burbank Mommies Facebook group and its generous members, no Christmas tree will remain empty this year.