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'Pear Lady' plans donation drive in response to WIC closure

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 8:10pm

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LAYTON — It all started with a pear tree in Cristen Smith's backyard.

With the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — more commonly known as WIC — possibly halting its operations because of the government shutdown, Smith took to the Internet with a humble offer.

"I just made a simple little post, saying 'I don't have a lot to offer, but I have a pear tree in my backyard,'" Smith said. " 'So, if anybody needs some free pears ... I can help any women out.' "

Smith, a single mother who has utilized WIC's services, was surprised by what happened next.

"All of a sudden, it just blew up," Smith said of her Facebook post. "Next thing I know, my inbox is just flooded. And my posts were just flooded. Hundreds more people got involved."

Soon, a donation drive was launched. Donations will be available to moms of little ones at Layton Commons Park on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. No paperwork — and certainly, no politicians — required. Smith welcomes both those who want to donate and mothers in need of a helping hand.

Smith said she wanted to reach out to at least some of the roughly 65,000 moms who depend on the federally-funded WIC program.

"You always have something that you don't need ... that somebody else does," said Kaitlyn Ford, Smith's sister and a donation drive organizer. "You may have nothing, but say it's an old pair of paints; say it's a can of formula your kid is allergic to — bring it. Somebody else can use it."

For Smith, her post's popularity has given her a new identity.

You can shut down a government, but you can't shut down a community.

–Kaitlyn Ford

"People are sharing my post everywhere, and so now, I don't even have a name anymore. I'm Cristen the Pear Lady."

Smith said she feels touched and humbled by the online response.

"You can shut down a government," Ford said, "but you can't shut down a community."

The Layton drive isn't the only place women can turn to for help. Shelters and food pantries are still accepting donations of formula and other items.


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