News & Politics  |  Parenting

A Bethesda Mom Has Created a Thriving Social Network to Help New Parents in Need

The volunteer-run Napkin Network provides formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.

The Napkin Network started when DC mom Lindsay Gill shared a Facebook post about collecting diapers for a local diaper bank.

When the Covid pandemic emerged, Bethesda mother of three Lindsay Gill says she heard on repeat that moms were struggling to afford basic baby essentials. At the same time, she knew many mothers in her community who were willing to offer support. So, she took action, posting on Facebook that she’d be collecting diapers for the DC Diaper Bank. In a couple of days, she’d gathered several thousand. Still, she “immediately knew this could be bigger than a simple diaper drive.” Because there were already “well-respected” nonprofits focused on collecting baby items, she decided to focus on the social network aspect first: “creating space and opportunities for moms to come together, and have it matter.” She called it The Napkin Network. Today, it’s a social-network-driven 501(c)(3) that organizes towards specific needs—money, winter coats, and more. More often than not, Gill says, “our mom communities exceed our expectations.”


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A post shared by The Napkin Network (@thenapkinnetwork)

Something that Gill says distinguishes the Napkin Network is that it’s small enough to adapt in real time to real needs. 

During this year’s formula shortage, the Napkin Network went into overdrive, focusing only on that. “I had my third formula-fed baby at the height of the formula shortage crisis,” Gill says. “Not only was I the founder of an organization helping moms in need, but I became a mom in need myself.” Every Friday, her group held formula drives, which got the attention of national media, and garnered coverage on BBC and SKY NEWS. Moms dropped off formula samples, extra cans, posted pictures of formula stocks at local stores, paid for overnight-shipping costs, and more.” Gill, who spent ten years before starting the Napkin Network working in business development for DC-based non-profit Luke’s Wings, estimates that the drives benefited roughly 200 families. 


A post shared by The Napkin Network (@thenapkinnetwork

The Napkin Network is always collecting money and baby items for local mothers—Gill says they host near-weekly events and partner with other organizations to hand out donated items in the DC community, Baltimore, Annapolis, McLean, and Frederick—but she gets requests for help all over the country. She hopes the organization can cast a wider net in 2023, but it will need more funding: “We’re looking for small sponsors, fundraising events that can sponsor the organization, and individual $25 donations to cover the cost of a box of diapers.”

Currently, the Napkin Network is entirely volunteer-run. It has no overhead costs or office space, and the work ranges from big, organized events to small, individual requests shared to the organization’s Instagram stories, where followers can respond in real time. 

Want to help? Gill says the organization could especially use “pro bono support” in accounting, along with donated storage space. Plus, she wants to create and join more fundraising and networking events next year. “If anyone is interested in partnering on an event or has speaking opportunities, podcasts, etc., please reach out,” Gill says. “The more people that know about The Napkin Network, the more moms we can help!”


Amy Moeller
Fashion & Weddings Editor

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.