When Lisa Klein received the old Pampers box, she wasn’t sure what she would find. But when she opened it, she found a stack of tiny, beautiful pastel dresses that she describes as “smocked in the front and poofy at the bottom.”
With the dresses was a letter. Klein remembers the sender writing something about how she had been “saving these clothes for the right place, and she’s finally found it,” she recalls. “She’s been waiting for, I think, 45 years to find the right spot.”
That place was Loved Twice, an organization that collects infant clothing to be distributed to families and new mothers in need. Through this weekend, in celebration of Mother’s Day, Loved Twice along with the Oakland and Berkeley Associations of Realtors (OBAOR), are holding a clothing drive at real estate offices throughout the Bay Area. The clothing will then be donated to hospitals, shelters, and clinics to be distributed to new mothers and families.
Klein, the executive director, founded Loved Twice in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina. Klein went to the New Orleans craigslist page and started reading posts. One from a church staffer read: “We don’t know how long we’ll have internet, but here’s what we need. We have fifty families here. They’re just camping on our lawn. They need everything.” The church went on to provide a list of items for people to donate, and somewhere on that list: baby clothes.
Klein had an attic full of baby clothes she was saving, and she started reaching out to other moms. “I was in a mom’s group of 15 other women. So I sent out one email to these amazing women,” said Klein. The other moms began to clean out their closets, and “I had 200 pounds of baby clothes on my porch in two days,” said Klein. “I packaged them up in the boy and girl boxes, paid to ship them, and that felt great.”
But the donations didn’t stop there.
“The next morning there were another 100 pounds of baby clothes on my porch,” she recalled. Then more and more donations came, including some like the 45-year-old dresses in the Pampers box. Soon Klein figured out how to turn her small volunteer project into a fulltime 501c3 nonprofit.
This year, Loved Twice received a grant from the realtors association to aid with running the program. In addition to the grant, OBAOR is throwing a clothing drive for Loved Trice, with donation boxes at real estate locations throughout Oakland as well as Berkeley, Albany and El Cerrito.
“We think Lisa has done a terrific job in starting something like this,” said Rhoda Paul, senior loan advisor for the Berkeley Association of Realtors. “She’s on to a very big basic need, I think.”
It’s not uncommon for the organization to receive clothing that dates back as far as the 1970’s, still in good, wearable condition. Klein says baby clothes are perfect because they hold up well and stand the test of time. Newborns don’t really run around in them, and baby fashion doesn’t change that often. “A yellow onesie with a duck on it doesn’t really go out of style. As long as that can keep a baby warm, that’s exactly what we need,” she said.
Loved Twice accepts donations year-round. The organization only accepts baby clothes for sizes 0-12 months. Through the weekend, donors can drop off clothing at the following locations in Oakland:
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate at 6137 LaSalle Ave
Highland Partners BHG Real Estate at 2077 Mountain Blvd.
Pacific Union Real Estate at 1900 Mountain Blvd
The Grubb Company at 1960 Mountain Blvd
For more information, visit www.lovedtwice.org