Like so many parents these days, Florida mom of four Monica Eubanks is living with stress every day. She's trying to juggle working full-time while helping her kids with virtual school and, like many people, her finances have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and her income is limited.
So when she started running low on baby formula for her 7-month-old she knew she needed to ask for help and she got it in the most unexpected way. Her now-viral story both shows how little infrastructure there is to support parents right now and how parents are stepping up to help each other.
With the baby formula running out Eubanks went to her local WIC office (also known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) to try to get some. But when she got there, the office was empty. A sign on the door read: "WIC office is closed. Please call [this phone number] for more information."
But when Eubanks dialed the number it wasn't WIC. It was just a fellow citizen, Craig Wilkerson. His phone had been ringing a lot, he had 48 missed calls, but he'd assumed it was a scam or a telemarketer so he hadn't picked up until Eubanks' call.
When he realized it wasn't a scam and that his number was hanging on the WIC office, his heart sank.
In a television interview with Stewart Moore of WESH2 in Orange County Wilkerson got choked up when he explained how he felt knowing that moms in his community here reaching out for help and weren't finding it.
"I've been on government services before. I know how hard it is. Excuse me for getting upset. I know how hard it is when you're trying to reach out for help and there's no one answering the phone on the other end," Wilkerson said.
So instead of telling Eubanks she had the wrong number, he asked how he could help her.
Like Eubanks, Wilkerson has been struggling financially during the pandemic. He doesn't have a lot and is waiting for unemployment. But he wasn't about to let Eubanks go without baby formula for one more minute.
"We just happened to have a little extra money on our food stamp card that I was able to get the baby formula and some of the things she needed," Wilkerson explains.
"He went out of his way and he didn't have to," Eubank said, adding that the experience makes her feel like "there's still good people left in the world."
If you want to help families in similar situations here are two things you can do:
1. Donate to a diaper bank. Find one near you by visiting the National Diaper Bank Network site.
2. Donate formula. Call your local food bank to see if they're accepting formula or have specific needs you can donate to.