MANSFIELD - The newsroom at Richland Source will look a little different on Saturday.
Pens and notepads will be replaced with diapers and wipes, laptops will be replaced with lactation consultants, and reporters will be replaced by more than 200 people in Richland County and the surrounding area expected to attend the Source's Community Baby Shower on Sept. 9.
The shower will officially begin at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. but guests are free to come and go as they please throughout the four-hour event. The location of the shower is at the brand-new Idea Works building, located at 40 W. 4th Street in downtown Mansfield.
Planning the shower has been five months in the making, and first began as a result of a grant awarded to Richland Source by the Solutions Journalism Network. The grant was awarded as a result of a solutions journalism series penned by Brittany Schock that addressed the problem of infant mortality in Richland County.
One stipulation of the grant was that part of the funding be used towards community engagement, so Richland Source devoted half of the grant funding to throwing the Community Baby Shower. The goal of community engagement is two-fold: the community will be engaging with their local online-only news organization, and nearly 20 organizations will have the opportunity to engage with and educate their community.
More than 40 local businesses and organizations have had their hand in making the Community Baby Shower possible, not to mention hundreds of individuals who have donated baby items, financial assistance, and their time towards this cause.
Included in the 40 businesses involved are approximately 20 local organizations who will be set up as "vendors" the day of the Community Baby Shower. These organizations will have tables of information to pass out to guests of the shower, with the goal of making as many families aware of the services available to them in their community.
Childcare will be available on-site courtesy of the Mansfield Area Y in order to allow mothers to take full advantage of the education offered to them at the Community Baby Shower. However, the number of children and the time spent in the childcare area may be limited due to the volume of people expected on Saturday.
A few organizations will be teaching short educational classes the day of the Community Baby Shower, giving families a wealth of knowledge to walk away with on Saturday. Organizations teaching classes include OhioHealth with a lactation consultant, the Community Health Access Project (CHAP) speaking on the impact of home visits during pregnancy, and Catalyst Life Services touting the importance of early childhood mental health screenings.
A fourth educational station will be present on Saturday to distribute a safe sleep tool for new mothers. The Mansfield Area Y will be hosting education for mothers to receive a baby box, courtesy of The Baby Box Co. and Baby Box University. The free program first launched in Richland County in March as a way to combat sleep-related infant deaths.
In order to receive a free baby box, mothers must first complete an online syllabus consisting of videos that takes approximately 20 minutes to watch. After watching the videos, mothers must complete an educational quiz based on the material they watched. After completing the quiz, they are then eligible to receive a free baby box.
The online syllabus will be available to watch the day of the shower on Saturday, but families are encouraged to complete the syllabus beforehand and bring their completion certificate in physical form or as a screenshot on their mobile phone. Local organizations including the Mansfield Area Y, Richland Public Health, Richland Pregnancy Services, CHAP and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan are providing more than 150 baby boxes on Saturday.
Baby boxes aren't the only item available for families to take home on Saturday. Thanks to generous donations from local businesses and individuals from the community, Richland Source is preparing 250 gift bags filled with baby items for mothers to walk away with after first completing a punch card at the shower.
Part of the items in the gift bags were purchased at the local Target store in Ontario thanks to more than $4,000 in financial donations from Haring Realty, Spherion Mid-Ohio, OhioHealth, Richland Bank, Mechanics Bank, North Central State College, The Holden Agency, Milliron Recycling and Richland Bank. Target also generously contributed approximately $1,000 in the form of a gift card plus a discount when purchasing the items on Tuesday.
A few businesses donated items in bulk. Jones Potato Chip Co. contributed 1,000 bags of Jones chips that will go in every gift bag, as well as be available for snacks the day of the shower alongside treats from Blackbird Bakery. Greg Boyce of Modern Woodmen also went shopping for $500 worth of diapers.
Even more baby items were donated thanks to the work of We ACT, a community service organization co-founded by Angel Ross-Taylor and Brigitte Coles. Baby items were collected in boxes located at the Richland County Prosecutor’s Office, the North End Community Improvement Collaborative, the District 5 Area Agency on Aging, the Richland County Youth and Family Council, Mid-Ohio Indivisible, the Linden Road Presbyterian Church, the Richland County Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Richland Source.
In order to receive a gift bag, mothers must first complete a punch card that will be issued to them upon arrival at the Community Baby Shower. The punch card has 10 stars that will be punched after visiting at least 10 of the 20 community organizations set up as vendors at the shower, plus the mini educational classes. Mothers will then turn in their completed punch card as they leave, where they will receive their gift bag full of donated baby items.
One extra punch will be included on the punch cards for families who choose to use a brand-new journalistic tool at Richland Source called the Listening Post. Constructed by the Renaissance Theatre, the Listening Post is a microphone connected to a recording device where mothers and families will be asked to share their best parenting advice and have their portrait taken.
Mothers who use the Listening Post will be entered into a special prize drawing for a gift basket donated by Spherion Mid-Ohio. This special gift basket includes a $25 American Express gift card, a $25 Starbucks gift card, laundry detergent and diapers, bath towels and a pampering gift, and much more.
All other attendees of the Community Baby Shower will be entered to win a number of door prizes upon arrival, prizes that were both donated and purchased by Richland Source using financial donations. Some larger items being raffled off include a high chair, strollers, car seats, diaper bags, a diaper genie, and a glider and ottoman set. Guests do not need to be present to win.
In true baby shower fashion, a pampering station will also be available at the Community Baby Shower for mothers to take a moment to relax. Shorter, 10-minute chair massages will be offered by Beyond Esthetics, and Agape Girl will also offer relaxing reiki services.
Finally, the entire event will be pulled together into a lavish affair by Shanna Stapleton at Prospering Life Events. Taking inspiration from the bird-themed art provided by local artist Orie Rush in the original solutions journalism series, Stapleton will make Richland Source look less like a newsroom and more like a baby shower for Saturday's event.
Throwing such a large event would not be possible without backing from the community and the staff at Richland Source. By bringing so many organizations together with the community, the ultimate goal is to help families have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
For questions about the Community Baby Shower, please contact Brittany Schock at firstname.lastname@example.org.