BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With thousands of families across the country struggling to feed their newborns amid the baby formula crisis, Heather Cabral recognized there was a need for someone to step in and meet the growing demand.

So Cabral, a Howard County mother and public relations professional, channeled her social media expertise into an online community that connects families in need with donors who are in a position to donate their own breast milk.

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And that’s how Mama Milk Bank was born. But, as Cabral explained Tuesday on WJZ at 9, her original vision was to launch a month-long pump-a-thon in June.

“I was hoping to use the month of June to galvanize women to pump and donate,” Cabral told WJZ’s Denise Koch. “But I realized it’s a bigger problem than that. Milk banks are wiped out, so I think they’re looking for longer-term repeat donors.”

Looking at her 17-month-old daughter, Cabral said, she couldn’t imagine worrying about how she would feed her, especially as a new mom. To help mothers in need, she launched Mama Milk Bank on Facebook last week.

While a message posted on the Facebook page acknowledges that it is not a “perfect or permanent” fix, Cabral’s community already has more than 100 followers—and a few success stories to boot.

Cabral said her greatest success story came Monday when she found a mother in Columbia with a six-week-old child with specific needs: breast milk from a mother with a dairy- and soy-free diet.

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“I reached out to my post-partum doula and a midwife friend and within an hour I found in a mom in (Washington, D.C.), who is dairy-free and soy-free,” Cabral said. “So I will pick up that milk from her on Thursday and drive it to this mom.”

Through Mama Milk Bank, Cabral is hosting a pump-a-thon all month long in hopes of both raising awareness about the formula shortage and providing a resource to potential donors and recipients.

She encourages women who are able to pump to donate what they can spare to Adventist HealthCare, which has drop-off locations in Germantown and Rockville.

Besides that, she recommends joining the Mama Milk Bank community, where donors and mothers are encouraged to share their locations, health status, allergy information and vaccination status.

“I want to do something to make things a little easier for another mama in need,” she said. “So many parents have poured into me since the day I found I was pregnant, so this is a way to pay all that love and nurturing forward.”

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To learn more, join the Mama Milk Bank community on Facebook.

CBS Baltimore Staff