BRUNSWICK

Mid Coast Hospital and Longley Health Center of Harpswell are collecting new and gently used baby carriers to aid Syrian refugees. Carry the Future plans to deliver about 1,000 carriers to Greece in early February.

Jenn Gunderman, a University of New England professor and Carry the Future volunteer, will be making her first trip to Greece on behalf of the organization on Feb. 8. Gunderman and four other volunteers will bring 200 carriers each to distribute to parents as they arrive.

The organization’s goal is to raise $2,500 and go to Greece and distribute the carriers.

As of the end of December, the organization has distributed about 6,000 carriers from all over the world. Any carriers donated at Mid Coast or Longley Health Center after Feb. 8 will be shipped to the organization’s distribution center in Maryland and will be sent over on the next trip to Greece.

“The baby carriers are filled with hats and mittens and granola bars,” Gunderman said. “We attach little tags to them with sayings such as ‘safe travels’ and ‘sending kindness’ to kind of remind them there are people in the rest of the world that care and we want them to be in a place that’s safe.”

The hats, mittens and especially the carriers are more than a warm token of friendship. Many refugees carry their children in their arms. They also contend with bitterly cold temperatures, with many arriving in Greece frostbitten. Gunderman spoke of refugees arriving at the island of Lesvos unresponsive and having succumbed to hypothermia.

Donations of hats, mittens and hand warmers will also be accepted.

Gunderman said this will be her first trip with the organization, but she has traveled extensively around the world, visiting areas experiencing hardship. Gunderman has a background in public health and epidemiology and teaches health-related classes at UNE.

Gunderman’s foundations in global learning class will be helping prep the carriers for the trip. Gunderman plans on sharing her experiences upon her return, working her volunteer trip into the classroom experience. Gunderman said the university has been very supportive of her work.

Gunderman said she wants to lighten the load for refugees, both literally and figuratively.

“More than anything I want it to be symbolic of all the people in the world who want Syrian refugees to be in a happy and safe place,” Gunderman said.

Gunderman said she wants to send a message both at home and abroad that Americans should be spreading kindness and peace to a people who have seen little of either since being forced to flee.

“We don’t want to spread hate or fear,” said Gunderman, a mother of three.

Through her teaching experiences, Gunderman said she has come to know several Somali refugees who years before, fled to this country, stressing they are simply looking for a better life, to become educated and contribute to their new home.

Gunderman said the group seeks soft-structured carriers with clasps or a harness or a Mei Tai carrier. Makers such as Baby Bjorn, Kolcraft, MobyGo and Ergo are desired. No car seats, metal frames, strollers or wraps are being accepted.

Anyone interested in volunteering, needing assistance or who may have questions regarding donations are encouraged to contact Gunderman at [email protected]

To Greece

JENN GUNDERMAN, a University of New England professor and Carry the Future volunteer, will be making her first trip to Greece on behalf of the organization on Feb. 8. Gunderman and four other volunteers will bring 200 carriers each to distribute to parents as they arrive.



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