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Perham church offers free diapers, kids' clothing

The Baby Bin was originally started at Crosspoint Alliance Church by Roxanne Bartels in 2006. Dori Mitchell, a member of the congregation, now leads the charge of this resource.

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Dori Mitchell's friendly face greets all who walk through Crosspoint Alliance Church's doors to enter the Baby Bin.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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PERHAM — One fateful car ride in the winter of 2006 changed the course of services offered to Perham families in need. Crosspoint Alliance Church Administrator Roxanne Bartels was driving from work in Detroit Lakes to her home in Perham when she heard an advertisement on the radio about a church holding a "baby shower" where people delivered diapers and baby wipes to go to families in need. She immediately thought it would be neat to have a service like that available at Crosspoint Alliance Church.

"(The elder board at the time) approved a small budget for us, and it just blossomed," Bartels reflected. "It's been going ever since. It's been wonderful."

Each morning on the first Tuesday of every month, the Baby Bin has its doors open inside the church with diapers, baby wipes and kids' clothing for families in need. Due to supply limits, each participant receives one package of diapers — offered in a variety of sizes — and one package of wipes. They can also peruse the clothing supply for anything their kids might need, such as mittens, shoes or pants. Families entering the church just need to sign up at the front, and all of these items are available for free.

While Bartels helped bring the Baby Bin to fruition, she wasn't the only person involved. It's been great for her to continue to see her creation grow and thrive, but now that she's busy as the church administrator, a new member of the congregation leads the Baby Bin's charge: Dori Mitchell.

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Tables and racks are filled with children's clothing once a month for families in need.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Originally from Montana, Mitchell joined Crosspoint Alliance Church after she and her husband moved to the Perham community. Though the two have since retired, Mitchell remains busy with the Baby Bin.

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"I think that this pack of diapers is $7, and a pack of wipes is at least $10," Mitchell shared, when considering the work she and other volunteers do for the community. "You know, we're giving you a drop in the bucket, but at least it's helping a little bit."

Everything available is something Mitchell said she'd want to put on her own child. They inspect all the items that come in to make sure they're clean and functional. Community members donate clothes, and volunteers go to thrift stores and garage sales throughout the year to find quality items for families in need.

If someone's baby has an allergy, Mitchell will even go out of her way to make sure the Baby Bin has diapers and wipes available that are safe for the baby.

Though the bin used to serve around 120 families, knowledge about this community resource has faded as babies and families grow older. Now, they serve about 50 families, and Mitchell wants to make sure the community knows that this free resource is right in town.

"Richville is the only other place that I know of in the area that gives away quality (items)," Mitchell said. "I don't know anyone else in the whole county — unless it's a secret."

Setting up this resource isn't an easy feat either. Mitchell and other volunteers get together the Monday before each Baby Bin date and set up all the clothes, diapers and wipes for those coming in the next day. They even mark down all the sizes.

Twice a year, an even larger group of volunteers helps to switch out the inventory from summer to winter options and vice versa. It's a large task, so they could always use the extra hands, Mitchell said.

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All contents of the Baby Bin — donated by community members or purchased by volunteers — are available for free.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

The Baby Bin isn't the only free resource available at Crosspoint Alliance Church on the first Tuesday of every month either. Tot Time, which runs for about two hours, allows parents and their children from birth to five years old to connect with one another and play. Mats, tunnels, tents, toys and more are available for kids in the room right off from the Baby Bin.

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Sarah Spicer, who leads Tot Time, has been with the program for about 14 years.

"I used to benefit from getting all the diapers and clothes," she shared. "I just love it so much, so I keep coming back. I know how it is for all these parents. It's so stressful having those little kids, and I like to be the person to advise or be able to relate to someone as a mom."

While Tot Time as a concept is simple, Spicer believes it's a blessing to have available. When she was a mother to young children, it took some of the strain off her shoulders. She mentioned that parenthood can sometimes get isolating, so it's nice to have people around who understand

"My kid, it was really nice for him to have a social outing," she said. "Being able to be with other kids was also good. For me, as a mom, it was to be able to relate to other people. I realized they're going through the same things that I am and can talk to me about that."

Kids attending Tot Time must be accompanied by an adult.

While Mitchell said she knows walking into a church can be intimidating, she emphasized that people of all backgrounds and religions are welcome at both the Baby Bin and Tot Time.

The Baby Bin takes place the first Tuesday of every month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tot Time takes place the same day from 9-11 a.m. Both can be found in Perham's Crosspoint Alliance Church, located at 600 Eighth St NE. For more information about these services or the church, call 218-346-4673 or visit crosspointalliance.org . If you're interested in volunteering, reach out to Mitchell at 218-371-8729.

"I just think there's such a need," Mitchell said. "It feels good to be able to (help out) in the community."

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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