By Janee Law
Rev. Kimberly Gaines-Gambino, president of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission (HHRM), is determined to continue the legacy her late parents left, while introducing a new program that focuses on assisting local moms and their babies.
“My parents always said we can’t help everybody, but we can help some people and the ones we are able to help are a blessing to us,” Gambino, 51, of Huntington, said.
The Helping Hand Rescue Mission, based out of 225 Broadway, Huntington Station, was founded in 1965 by Gambino’s parents, Rev. Jim Gaines and Rev. Rose Marie Gaines.
After completing its backpack distribution campaign, which provided more than 350 local children with new backpacks and school supplies for the 2017-2018 school year, HHRM started its new “Baby Blessings” initiative. The objective is to provide baby supplies to local families who are struggling financially.
“We’ve given out diapers before, but not in an organized program, and the number of mothers coming to us now has really grown,” Gambino said. “We’re seeing more and more moms who are in need, so instead of helping people as they come, I wanted to have an organized approach to doing this.”
Since diapers are hygiene items, they can’t be paid for out of EBT funds or SNAP funds, Gambino said, adding that sometimes babies go without being changed for long lengths of time or in some cases diapers are reused.
“It’s really sad and then the baby is unhealthy and unhappy and we want happy and healthy little babies,” Gambino said.
Those interested in helping can drop off items, including diapers, baby wipes, formula, clothes and other supplies for infants and toddlers, at the Huntington Station location.
“We’re in the process of collecting diapers and I would like to be able to give the moms one week’s worth of diapers, which is about 40,” Gambino said.
The new Baby Blessings initiative will distribute supplies to local families on the third Wednesday of each month from the Huntington Station location; the first distribution date is Sept. 20, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
“A light lunch will be served afterwards, and some kind of inspirational, devotional time for encouragement because it’s not easy,” Gambino said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of the moms personally and a lot of them work hard, a lot of them are trying to make ends meet.”
Growing up in the mission, Gambino said she’s become familiar with the work and the people, serving alongside her mother to help provide local families with food, clothing, household items, prayers and spiritual encouragement.
With her father passing seven years ago and her mother recently passing in March, Gambino was determined to continue HHRM and carry the legacy her parents left behind.
“The mission was their life and it was their heart. I really miss them more than anyone will ever know, but every day I feel so close to them here,” Gambino said. “To know that it’s continuing on and that people are supporting and helping us to continue means the world to me.
“We will carry this forward to become what they really wanted it to be, a continuing lighthouse in the community.”