Carry the Future

Brooklyn businesses team up to bring baby carriers to Syrian refugees in Greece

 

"Clementine's Bakery" in Brooklyn. Photo by Veronika Bondarenko

As record numbers of refugees continue to arrive in Greece, Brooklyn businesses are trying to do their part by collecting baby carriers for migrant families with small children. The initiative comes after a Feb. 10 announcement by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who encouraged Brooklyn residents to donate their used baby carriers to Carry The Future, a nonprofit that collects carriers throughout the United States and transports them to Athens to hand out to refugees fleeing the war in Syria. Clementine Bakery is one of the businesses participating in the program,  scheduled to run until April. The vegan and gluten-free bakery put out a call encouraging customers and other local residents to bring their old baby carriers to its Clinton Hill location, where they are picked up by volunteers. “Clementine is a great drop spot because our location is in the heart of a very family-oriented neighborhood,” said Michelle Barton, owner or the bakery. “A community that is overflowing with babies.” Gia Giasullo, co-owner of the Brooklyn Farmacy soda shop in Carroll Gardens, said that as a mother of two and a business owner in a residential part of Brooklyn, she was eager to participate when Kiki Valentine, a Brooklyn activist and Carry The Future volunteer, approached her with the idea of asking her customers to bring in their used baby carriers. “Babies are only in the carriers for a very short time, so oftentimes even used [carriers] are pretty gently used,” said Giasullo. “It’s something that can be reused and really has a great impact on people in need.” Valentine, who had been nominated for a “Brooklyn Do Gooder” award in 2010, suggested the campaign to the borough president’s office after meeting many people who wanted to help refugees but did not know how to start . She then approached businesses in different Brooklyn neighborhoods, in particular those that cater to a parent clientele. “There were many moms who I was speaking to about what’s happening in Syria. Helping others in need is something that everyone wanted to participate in but didn’t know how,” said Valentine. Along with drop-off locations in Brooklyn Borough Hall,  Bay Ridge, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Greenpoint and Park Slope, Wild Was Mama in Williamsburg collects baby carrier donations from its customers and neighbors. While the initiative spearheaded by Adams is only scheduled to run for several weeks, the maternity store has been collecting baby carriers since Carry The Future started in September and plans to do so for as long as they are needed. Stefan Ringel, communications director for Adams, confirmed that they received five baby carriers to date at Borough Hall. In order to motivate her customers to participate, owner Adriane Stare offers a 10 percent discount for each baby carrier that people bring in. “It is something that we can help do because we are so central to the world of baby carriers and baby wearing in Brooklyn,” said Stare. Cristal Logothetis, who founded Carry The Future after seeing the Sept. 2 photo of , Alan Kurd, 3, said that as the mother of a 2 year-old son, she was inspired to help refugees who are trying to reach Greece with small children. “I’m looking through the pictures and I’m reading the articles and one thing that stood out to me was the amount of parents holding babies and infants and toddlers in the arms,” said Logothetis. “I just couldn’t believe it, because I have trouble holding my son for more than fifteen minutes.” Logothetis then started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $2,500 for 100 baby carriers that she could ship to her aunt, who would hand out the carriers to the refugees arriving to the small Greek island of Kos. After her campaign was picked up by the Huffington Post, Logothetis saw the number of donations skyrocket—to date, Carry The Future has raised over $160,000 and 10,000 baby carriers. Since her initial shipment of baby carriers to Kos, Logothetis expanded the campaign to include more people. Teams of 8 to 10 female volunteers, each of whom finances airfare with her own money and brings two bags of 30 to 40 baby carriers aboard the plane, make two trips to Athens every month. Once in Greece, the volunteers wait for ships full of refugees to dock at Piraeus Port and quickly hand out baby carriers to anyone with small children before they are loaded onto buses for the rest of their journey. Logothetis, who hopes to branch out the campaign to help other refugee communities in Europe in the future, was especially surprised by the immediate and overwhelming response to her campaign. She said that she saw people from all sides of the political spectrum, even those who support Donald Trump, eager to help out the refugees by donating baby carriers that they no longer used. “Politically, they might not be the kind of person that says ‘Oh yeah, bring the refugees in by the hordes’, but they still want to help,” said Logothetis. “When they see those pictures, most people don’t see politics or any of that. They see a person that’s suffering.” By  Veronika Bondarenko Share this:

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