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"Milk Ladies" Feed Babies For 30 Years, Raise $2.6 Million

By Anthony Todd in Food on Sep 10, 2012 4:40PM

2012_9_10_infant.bmp This heartwarming story of charity in Saturday's Tribune caught our eye this morning: a group of women based in Winnetka have been delivering formula to needy babies throughout Chicago for almost 30 years. Without fanfare, and without judgment, the original eight women (plus their daughters and other relatives) have raised $2.6 million dollars to help hungry children.

The organization, officially called Infant, Inc., donates to more 60 food pantries and shelters. Their administrative overhead is less than 2 percent, so practically all of their money goes directly towards helping Chicago-area babies. The beneficiaries of their goodwill call them "milk ladies." The Trib tells the story:

It began in December 1982, when Dorothy Clarke heard on the news that mothers struggling in that era's recession were diluting their baby formula with sugar and water...So many new mothers couldn't make ends meet. Many were stuck in limbo waiting for welfare eligibility to kick in while their babies went without. Others were malnourished or rebounding from drug addictions and couldn't provide breast milk. "It was such a shock to find out, but there was really no judgment involved," said Clarke, 80. "They're babies. They need to be fed."

Yet more proof that a few determined people, focusing on a cause, can make a difference in the lives of a lot of others. The organization takes contributions by mail; more information can be found on their website.