The Cambrian

‘Bottoms Up’ fundraiser to aid homeless, poor youngsters in Cambria

Yes, the phrase “Bottoms Up” has a double meaning, and both of them apply to the fun-and-fundraiser of the same name from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at The Wise Owl, 2164 Center St.

In true North Coast tradition, the fundraiser will offer lots of food (“heavy tapas”), a no-host bar with beer and wine (“bottoms up,” indeed), live music by Ranchers for Peace, a raffle, silent auction and more. 

But the important “bottoms up” are the ones the fundraiser is going to help … tiny baby bottoms whose homeless, impoverished and low-income families can’t afford diapers and other necessities for their infants and toddlers.

Fundraiser tickets, priced at $20, are available in advance at the Owl, online at www.infantessentials.org or at the door.  

All proceeds go to the nonprofit Infant Essentials, which was born in 2012 when Heather Markham of Cambria saw a needy couple holding a sign that read, “looking for work, food, money.”

What tugged at Markham’s heart was the homeless couple’s baby in a stroller behind them. 

“It happened to be my daughter Gwen’s first birthday,” Markham wrote at the website, “and I was coming home from the grocery store, having bought food for our 15-person family celebration dinner. I felt guilty for having all the wonderful things that we have been blessed with, but also felt helpless, because what could I offer them that would make a difference in their lives?

“I ran home and grabbed some baby snacks from our cupboard and brought them, along with $20, to the couple. 

“They were very thankful, but I didn’t feel any better,” Markham concluded. She wanted to do more.

She has a degree in community health, so she tapped her training and began a formal needs assessment and quickly learned a universal and urgent need among homeless parents of infants and toddlers is diapers. 

“Neither FoodStamps nor WIC programs offer diapers or diaper discounts,” Mark-ham said, adding that county shelters have neither the space nor the ability to store and distribute the vital items. (WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children.)

Markham founded the nonprofit Infant Essentials. She and her board members, Margie Sesser and Helen Pitton, both of Cambria, sought ways to provide diapers and other baby items to needy families.

Markham wrote in an Oct. 1 email to supporters that the nonprofit has been working closely with county homeless services, the RISE domestic violence shelter and other outreach programs. 

The fundraiser is to kick-start Infant Essentials’ second annual November Diaper Drive. In the 2013 drive, more than 2,100 diapers were collected and distributed.

Those who can’t attend the fundraiser can provide a tax-deductible donation at the website using the PayPal button. 

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