Real Women's Stories: 'I Saw Children in Need and Had to Help'

These four women didn't turn away when they discovered kids who were sick, hungry, craving an education or so poor they didn't have clothes. Instead, they each found a way to give back. 

loved twice charity for baby clothes

Lisa Klein, 45, Oakland, California
The Charity: Loved Twice
Founded: 2005
Mission: Ensuring disadvantaged babies are properly clothed

One message. Four days. Two hundred pounds of baby clothes. Whoa—Lisa Klein was on to something. It was September 2005, the week after Hurricane Katrina, and Lisa visited Craigslist’s New Orleans page, looking for someone she could help. “I found a church in Louisiana where about 50 families were camping out with just the clothes on their backs,” she recalls. “The ad said they need everything: sleeping bags, towels, medicine, blankets, baby clothes. When I saw that last item, I got goose bumps.”

Lisa, then a new mom, dashed off an e-mail message to the 15 women in her mothers group: “Drop off your used baby clothes on my porch, and I will send them to the church.” The response was rapid and overwhelming. Lisa packed up the 200 pounds of clothing—in about 20 1-square-foot boxes—and mailed them off.

“But the next day,” she says, “there were 100 more pounds of baby clothes on my porch! Then a woman I’d never met pulled up in her minivan with even more. I said, ‘Who are you?’ Turns out, my 15 friends had told their friends, who told their friends, and everyone was posting their own appeals.

Realizing that she couldn’t afford the postage to keep sending clothes from California to Louisiana, Lisa looked around for a similar need closer to home. She didn’t have to look far. “I live in Oakland, where there is serious poverty,” says Lisa, who dropped the extra clothes off at a nearby hospital.

And that’s how Loved Twice was hatched. “I had quit my job in advertising after my daughter was born in 2003,” Lisa says, “and when it was time to go back into the workforce, I knew I wanted to do something for the greater good.” With her charity, she’d found her calling, although she acknowledges that the learning curve was steep.

Luckily, Lisa says, “Every time a wrench was thrown into the works, something solved the problem. A box company called me out of the blue to offer 4,000 boxes. Another time, someone from the Rust Charitable Foundation in Kansas City phoned and said they’d help fun a new warehouse. Wells Fargo headquarters called, asking how the bank could help. I said, ‘Rent a U-Haul, send three strong guys to pick up 1,000 pounds of baby clothes from my basement, take them to your conference room, sort them into boy and girl boxes and deliver them to these five social-service agencies.’ And they did!” That’s when Lisa, who’d once had big clients including Levi’s and Hewlett-Packard, realized she could both streamline things and grow the charity by asking companies—big ones, like Google, as well as small ones—to hold clothing drives and sorting parties.

To date, Loved Twice, which now has three part-time coordinators in addition to Lisa, has collected some 735,000 garments (98,090 pounds—and more than $2.2 million—worth) and has partnered with 154 social-service agencies. Twenty percent of the clothes are dropped off in collection bins around the Bay Area, 60 percent come from company clothing drives and 20 percent are donated to local Loved Twice chapters, which serve families in California, Minnesota, New York and North Carolina.

Lisa has inspired her family, too: “My two kids, who are 7 and 10, sometimes help pack clothes. I am so proud that we’re helping so many babies.”

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