Coins change lives with baby bottle fundraiser

HOULTON, Maine — Dropping pocket change into baby bottles will help Aroostook County parents better care for infants with no-cost ultrasounds, diapers, baby wipes, cribs and counseling. 

Each winter, the annual Baby Bottle Campaign raises more than $30,000 for the Pregnancy Care Center of Aroostook County with funds assisting centers in Houlton, Presque Isle and Fort Kent.

One of three major fundraisers for the county’s Pregnancy Care Centers, the Baby Bottle Campaign works with area churches to raise funds that support their Give Moms Credit program. The bottles are distributed to church members who take them home to fill and return.  This year’s baby bottles must be returned to churches by March 5. 

The County baby bottle drive is part of a larger national campaign with churches throughout Maine and the country collecting coins for Pregnancy Care Centers. 

The United Methodist Church of Houlton and Hodgdon collects about 30 to 40 bottles from members who have filled them with coins, dollars and checks.  This year, the ministers added their Mars Hill church to the Baby Bottle Campaign, Pastor Victor Han said.

“Every year our churches participate in the Baby Bottle Campaign for the Pregnancy Center which is the biggest fundraiser,” Pastor Han said. “Our support enables the pregnancy center to provide free pregnancy tests, counseling, parenting classes, ultrasounds, Bible studies and material assistance such as diapers and clothing for pregnant mothers.”

The 2021 and 2022 combined County total was $65,102.16: Houlton, $21,784; Presque Isle, $37,989.19; and Fort Kent, $5,329. Presque Isle has the largest number of churches participating, according to Aroostook County Pregnancy Care Centers Administrative Assistant Christina Maynard.

With the Give Moms Credit program, they attend parenting classes and Bible study to earn  credits for up to $200 of infant equipment like cribs, car seats or high chairs.  Before COVID-19,  the pregnancy center gave Moms a voucher to buy the crib or other selected item. Now, the Moms go online to make a selection and it is shipped directly to their home, Maynard said. 

At the Pregnancy Care Center of Houlton on North Street, women use the funds for cribs, strollers, breast pumps, bouncy seats, car seats, bassinets, Director Cyndee Randall said. 

“Often money is tight and some Moms have no support, no baby showers,” Randall said.

They also offer baby clothing, diapers, baby wipes, classes and counseling.. The Houlton center currently helps about 15 moms on a somewhat regular basis. 

Many moms come to the center for diapers and some stop by to talk, especially when they are having a bad day.

“We try to have hot chocolate and cookies and lemonade in summer,” Randall said. 

Once the churches bring the filled bottles to the local centers, the collected money is emptied into one container and taken to a bank for sorting and deposit. 

“We know that even a great waterfall begins with only one drop of water. It begins with one bottle. It begins with you and me,” Pastor Han said.