Preparedness Outreach Ideas

In my last post, I asked for ideas from you about how to help single parents become prepared. I received this fantastic email from Jennifer. She has given me permission to share her ideas.

"I love this! As the parent of a baby, it was parenthood that made me get serious about “preparedness”. Sure, we always had some stuff around, but becoming a “Mama Bear” made me realize that I fiercely want to protect my Baby Bear, and make sure that he always had what he needed. Single Moms have so many more things working against them including lacking that partner. This would be my approach:

Map out a series of steps based on immediate needs for an emergency. Have a buying plan for an extra $10/week.

1.) Storing Water:
Have a soda bottle drive at your church. It doesn't cost a thing! Just by announcing the collection, you’ll have people thinking about their own water supply. You can’t make it more than ~ 3 days without water. This would be my first step because it’s free. For the next big holiday (4th of July?) ask members to buy their soda in plastic bottles for their party and bring them in when they’re done.

2.) 72-hour kit:
Make up a list and an approximate cost. Make the list in phases of “essential” (water, food, flashlight), “like to have” (extra shoes, toiletries, etc.). Perhaps a “drive” in the church for unused kids backpacks and bags? Have the kids make up a 72-hour kit in Sunday School. Moms might not accept charity for themselves, but they won’t say “no” to something that will benefit their children. I know I wouldn't. (Around here we have a chain of stores called “*****”. They often have “free with rebate” items, and backpacks are a big item. Other times they’re $0.99 with rebate.) Also the little “drawstring” backpacks are <$3 online. Combine it with Biblical stories – Joseph, the 10 virgins, Noah, etc. Fill it with what kids could reasonably fit and carry – 6 bottles of water, granola bars, fruit cups, pudding etc. It’s a start.

3.) Lifestyle Issues:
Getting out of debt, savings, living within your means, etc. Real resources and problem solvers for issues at home (eliminating cable, Netflix, etc.). Smartly using a credit card. Having a garage sale. Scoring great kids items at other garage sales. Free entertainment (think public library instead of the movies). Trading child-care services with other parents instead of paying a sitter. Advertise local resources - WIC, school programs, etc.

4.) Helping your moms get their 3-month-supply:
Compile Easy Recipes – Sure we’d all like to whip up a Martha Stewart meal every night, but busy moms need recipes that are tasty, easy and can eliminate the frozen convenience foods (pizza, etc.) “30-Minute-Meals” sound appealing, but a 10 minute prep then throw in the oven/crock pot is even better. 20 minutes not in the kitchen, is 20 more minutes with the kids. Also focus on one-pot meals for easy cleanup. From this list, compile a 2-3 week menu rotation that is diverse and nutritionally complete. Multiply by 4-6 for 12 weeks (3 months). Yes, I know about having wheat and grinders handy, but initially, this is a lot for a single mom to swallow. She doesn't have time to shower, so she’s not whipping up home made bread. Am I right?

My faves: Cheap Baked Beans - can of pork and beans, ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar. Heat on the stove. Serve with hotdogs bought on sale and frozen. :) Baked chicken breasts with Dijon mustard and crushed saltines on top. Pasta & Sauce (boil pasta, drain, then add sauce in same pot, and heat) Easy peasy

Create a recipe booklet with the ingredients in a standard format to inventory ingredients. Include substitutions or extras. Along-side, create a master ingredient list for the 3 months of meals. This could be a great thing to “sell” at church, allowing the proceeds to help fund other phases of your endeavor. Include a mini-sharpie with the cookbook and encourage people to write the purchase date on their canned goods if there is no exp.

Start a coupon exchange at church. Lots of people get the big Saturday/Sunday paper with coupons. Some people just throw out the coupons. Formula and diapers are a big one to save on. Moms have to have those.

5.) Maintaining emergency supplies, rotating stock, establishing a long-term storage:
eNewsletter with hints and tips – Amazon has diaper prices that are competitive with Babies R Us AND they ship for free. Timesaver! Remind your moms of what they can do with their $10 that week: 10 boxes of Mac N Cheese. 5 jars of pasta sauce. Discuss building an emergency car kit before winter cold or summer heat. $10 should cover new batteries for smoke and CO detectors each fall and spring – a wise investment. Talk about squirreling away $10 in the car for emergency gas, $10 away in the 72-hour kit. An extra $10 on the credit card bill. Discuss this Tylenol recall and the benefit of diversifying supply sources. (Our stores were out of generics, too!) I’m thinking about the peanut recall, too.

Move on to longer-term storage dehydrated vs. freeze dried. Educating your readers instead of giving instructions will help them to think about how they can attain these goals within their own situation. Don't forget to include your single moms in the giving back! They'll have kids clothes that are outgrown or toys that they no longer need. They can donate them too."

Thanks Jennifer for all of your fantastic ideas! I shared some of these ideas at a recent brainstorming meeting and our Stake is already talking about doing a soda-bottle donation drive.