Forced to close temporarily to the public due to social distancing measures in place, the Tomball Pregnancy Center has upped its donations to young families in need, manning a drive-thru material distribution day each Thursday at its Alma Street location, Executive Director Mariratina Burton said in an April 16 interview.

The family resource center is accepting donations of diapers, brand new baby clothing, toiletries, snack items, grocery gift cards and other baby items to help families who may be expecting a child or have young children or foster children, Burton said.

"One day a week in our parking lot, we are offering [a] material assistance distribution day," she said. "We have found that many of our clients have lost jobs or have had hours cut back as a result of the pandemic. Especially being a vulnerable population with being pregnant, we wanted to not have them be forced to pay between food and diapers and wipes and the necessities of their children."

In the two weeks prior to April 16, the pregnancy center had served 50-60 families on its material distribution days, Burton said, with more than 600 items given during that time.

Families in need are asked to call the center first to assess their needs and are then given an appointment to drive through and pick up the donated supplies, she said. Community members can call for a time to drop off items or drop off donations Thursdays from noon-2 p.m. in front of the Tomball Pregnancy Center.

Financial donations are also welcome, Burton said.

"We have had an incredible outpouring of items from the community, so it's been a really beautiful thing to see the supporters drop the items off and then that same day items be sent right back out into the hands of those who need them and are trying to provide for their children," Burton said.

While the pregnancy center normally offers material assistance to families with children ages 0-3 and pregnant mothers, Burton said foster families can also contact the center for help.

In addition to stepping up its material distribution efforts while the center is closed, staff member shave also been redeployed to help out in other capacities. For example, while medical services are suspended, the center's sonographer is shopping to fulfill families' grocery wish lists with the donated grocery gift cards, Burton said.

The center's medical team was also rapidly trained to switch to case management. Six staff members have been calling clients regularly to check in and schedule follow up calls to see how clients might need help, be it counseling, prayer, material supplies or parenting classes, Burton said.

"We have called every active client that we have to check on them and see what they need and to just be there for them," Burton said. "We understand that this is not going to be a quick fix in our families coming back from this COVID-19 crisis, and we would like the community to know that we are here and we will continue to support them not just now, but all the way through their pregnancy, when their children are growing."