Laura Howard is a local Grey Lynn mother of two (2 & 4) who in 2013, along with her husband Michael, founded Littlemore. The pair, and their now 45+ team of volunteers, are passionate about providing pre-loved baby essentials from one Kiwi to another. It was because of this passion the team at Kokako were lucky enough to meet her and hear Littlemore’s story.
Laura currently volunteers part-time for the charity, works on freelance arts writing and research and raises her littlies! She has a Masters in Art Curatorship and a background working in a variety of galleries and collections as a project manager. From a young age her family’s passion for social engagement instilled a desire to give practical community help.
Did the idea for Littlemore simmer for sometime or was it full steam ahead once the seed was planted?
I established Littlemore in March 2013 after hearing a passing comment from my midwife about how some babies born at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland were sent home in baby-sized hospital gowns as their families had no clothes for them. As the mum of a newborn myself, my heart was touched and I couldn’t forget that conversation. In fact, her words replayed in my mind over and over again in those first few months as a new parent. I knew I had to do something about it, no matter how small it might seem in the overall scheme of things. I started to notice friends and other new parents I was meeting were wondering what to do with the mountains of baby clothes and other gear their little ones had outgrown. And from this, the idea of starting a charity to help babies in need was born.
During that first year word spread, and generous people dropped off donations to my apartment, where I’d sort things in her lounge and stack it all in the corner of my daughter’s room. From small beginnings, Littlemore has grown a lot in terms of the space it occupies, the volume of gear we turnover, and the number of partner organisations, volunteers and local business supporters involved – not to mention the number of families we are now able to help. Our operations are now based at Storage King Grey Lynn, who generously support Littlemore by providing us with a large storage unit as our base to gather, sort and deliver baby gear.
Do you volunteer numbers waiver in the winter?
No, they don’t! We’re incredibly thankful for the 45+ incredibly dedicated Littlemore volunteers who give their valuable time and energy to help little ones in need. Littlemore runs on the strength of our enthusiastic and committed volunteers. Some give a couple of hours each month on a Saturday morning to help sort items, make deliveries to our partners during the week, or coordinate operations and all the hard work and communication behind the scenes. We’re also fortunate to have six experienced supporters as Littlemore’s founding trustees and champions, and great relationships with generous local businesses like Kōkako.
What makes a great volunteer and how do you find them?
The wonderful feeling of being able to help in a small way, brings such joy and fulfilment and is also echoed by our whole volunteer team. It is a key motivator for all of us who are part of the Littlemore team. Passion for what we do, enthusiasm, a commitment to our roles, and great communication are key attributes of a great volunteer! Many of our new volunteers are friends, family members or colleagues of existing volunteers. Our committed following of Facebook supporters also regularly put up their hands to join our Saturday morning volunteer team when we put out a call for more volunteers.
Ever since its inception, Littlemore’s driving concept remains very simple: pre-loved baby essentials from one Kiwi to another. A few years on, we are just as excited about what we’re doing, and in retaining our grassroots simplicity that resonates with so many, as we continue to grow and expand our reach and our team.
What are some of the more unusual donations? And what’s needed the most?
We’re constantly blown away by the generosity of Kiwi’s, in donating an incredible array of great quality baby gear. Items we always need the most are prams, capsules, cots, bassinets, and moses baskets. You can see the full list of what we’re able to accept and re-home here.
Between Littlemore and raising your own little ones, what do you do to relax?
Walks with my littlies, curling up with a good book, or enjoying a large pot of earl grey tea!
What are you most proud of?
That Littlemore donations have helped thousands of Kiwi families’ lives – something we’re all constantly humbled by and extremely proud of. And how quickly people are willing to pitch in and help.
What is the best part of being a parent?
Watching your children grow, exhibit such individuality and creativity from a young age, and seeing their personalities flourish.
Do you have a wish for this Mother’s Day?
Some relaxing family moments with my children and husband Michael, and a bit of time with my own Mum and mother in law. Mother’s Day is usually fairly busy for us, running between family meals and catch-ups!
and lastly, how do you have your coffee?
I love Kōkako’s cold brew!
Littlemore have seen such growth in the amount of baby gear donated and in the community need for what we collect, they are at the point where they now need funds to put tools and systems in place and hire a general manager to help them keep doing what they do sustainably to meet the growing need. They’re looking to Kiwis who are able to help fund this role, to help them keep working towards their vision: communities where every newborn is set for life. So why not pop a little cash their way this May? And help them make an even bigger difference. You can support Littlemore via their Givealittle page.