ORLANDO — Amanda Pacheco didn't intend to start a movement.
But in September, when one of her friends died, leaving behind a 6-week-old baby, Pacheco rallied dozens of breast-feeding moms to donate breast milk to her friend's daughter, baby Sara.
Before long, Pacheco had more donations of breast milk than Sara could use. Orlando moms donated dozens of packets of frozen breast milk. Four local businesses volunteered to serve as dropoff locations and provided freezers to store the milk.
"Right now I have a freezer full of milk," Pacheco said.
Faced with a dilemma — because frozen breast milk must be used within six months unless it's kept in a deep freezer — Pacheco and a few other Orlando-area moms decided to start a nonprofit that will provide breast milk to needy babies. "It doesn't last forever," she said. "So now we're in the process of finding other families who need help."
Her new organization, Get PUMPed!, hopes to help babies whose mothers have died, like baby Sara's, or babies whose mothers are sick and cannot breast-feed, such as cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. Other babies who may be eligible for the milk are adopted babies and those in foster care, she said.
The concept of milk banks isn't new. But there's no human milk bank in Florida.
"We're not an official milk bank because milk banks typically work with hospitals for premature babies," Pacheco said. "Our mission is to help families in crisis." Instead, their organization is what is known as "mother's milk depot," an organization where moms can donate breast milk, which is then given to babies in need.