Last December, Lindsay Gill ‘06 made a New Year’s resolution: Take one step toward creating an organization to help moms in need. On January 1, 2021 she made that move--she bought a domain name, and came a bit closer to launching The Napkin Network.
Now in full swing, The Napkin Network supplies Washington, D.C.-area mothers with diapers, formula, diaper wipes and other items. Gill turns to her network of fellow moms to make the donations happen, arranging drop-offs at local events and turning her home into a veritable diaper storage center.
“I was seeing so many terrible stories in the news about shortages of diapers, families … deciding that they could afford (either) food or diapers that week,” Gill said. “I thought maybe I could bring together people like myself, moms who want to help other moms in need.”
Gill had long been interested in the problems facing women and children. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in communication, Gill first worked for National Geographic television and then went on to work for the International Center for Research on Women, where she focused on violence against women.
“I felt very passionately about them making a difference, and maybe I could, too,” Gill said. “I was very impacted by the sadness and heartbreak I felt for children and women who were being impacted by these terrible situations. I just couldn’t get it out of my head.”
Later, Gill went on to work for the military nonprofit Luke’s Wings, which provides free airfare to wounded or ill service members and their families during recovery. There, she met her now-husband, co-founder and CEO Fletcher Gill, and learned the ins and outs of managing a charity.
Last year, Gill decided to leave the nonprofit and “create something on my own,” she said--leading to the creation of The Napkin Network, named for the network she hoped to establish and to honor her last name before marriage, Kin.
Gill, who has two young children and is expecting a third, began this past winter by reaching out to her local moms’ groups, asking if people had spare diapers to donate. Soon, her house started filling up with diapers, formula and other baby products. “People are very generous with their items,” Gill said.
The Napkin Network’s mission “spread quickly,” said Gill, and soon she looped in her sister in Baltimore and mom in Annapolis to reach out to their networks, too. A church near Dulles started a diaper drive, and two of Gill’s friends offered up the headquarters of their D.C.-based company for drop-offs. The Napkin Network also offers Target credit to moms to buy baby supplies or groceries.
Partnering with established companies and organizing events for moms to both connect and give back have been essential to getting the word out, said Gill, who also reaches moms through Facebook, Instagram, her website and other mediums.
During The Napkin Network’s first major event in July, nearly 11,000 diapers were gathered and donated to moms in need.
The critical ingredient in making The Napkin Network successful has been “the collective power of moms helping other moms,” she said. “There’s an innate calling to help other moms and especially the children who need them.”
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By Sala Levin '10