CAMDEN COUNTY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "When we create these gift bags, it has to be special because every mom is special," said Susan Rose. "And I want this gift to make her realize that somebody cares."
Rose has dedicated the last 22 years of her life to carrying on the mantle of motherhood left by her daughter. Susan Rose Albert lost her life at the age of 40 in a motor vehicle accident in Morocco. She is now survived by her family and a foundation that bears her namesake.
The Lauren Rose Albert Foundation provides grants to women in need. But it also is home to a program known as "Mothers Matter," which was designed to send gifts of personal care products to women in South Jersey.
"First year was 265 Mother's Day gift bags," said Rose. "We've done over 53,000."
For the first time in two years, Rose and her team of volunteers were able to visit daycares like Loida Development Center II and the Greater Collingswood Children's Center. There, they gave gifts to mothers and sent kids home with bags for their moms.
"Oh my God, I am so thankful," said Natasha Rodriguez, the head teacher at Loida Development Center II. "These were gifts that we didn't expect."
A mother of two and a role model for dozens of kids, Rodriguez appreciates the rewards and challenges she faces.
"There are a lot of parents here that will also be thankful for this because everyone has a different circumstance in life," she said. "We don't know what everyone's going through. And any little thing is always a plus."
Mothers Matter has since expanded to a year-round effort. But their fundraising and donation efforts were severely curtailed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has permeated through every part of their organization, even down to their physical headquarters in Washington Township.
"We pay for rent, utilities, insurance," said Susan Rose. "If we can no longer afford it, we're going to have to look elsewhere, or God forbid, Mothers Matter will have to close its doors."
Susan Rose is hopeful the community will keep their mission alive through alternative methods of support.
"We just hope it doesn't happen because what we do is different," she said. "And we touch so many lives in just such a small way."
To learn more about Mothers Matter and the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation, visit their website.
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