At first glance, the Shorewood Kidscycle Facebook group looks like every other neighborhood buy-sell-trade group. There are millions of these groups popping up across Facebook. Local families participate by buying, selling, and trading their gently used kids’ items – everything from furniture to toys, clothing, books and so on. I’m part of maybe three or four, myself. These groups make it convenient and affordable to raise a child on a limited budget. They also teach responsible consumerism by recycling and reusing children’s items that we all know cost way more than they should and, here in Wisconsin, are typically only used for a season.
But this isn’t a post about why you should join one of these groups or how to start one of your own. It’s a post about how a Milwaukee mom, and the community she’s created, turned “buy-sell-trade” into “faith-hope-love.”
Annie Monahan, Kidscycle’s founder, chief-admin and mother of five, started the group in July of 2014 while pregnant with her youngest and stuck with it after her son’s one months stay in the NICU after his arrival in late August. Annie is a Milwaukee native and former MPS teacher. She is one of the most positive, compassionate and empathetic souls that I have ever encountered. She works relentlessly (and for FREE, I might add) to make sure the site is a group where, yes, you can earn a little money but you can also pay-it-forward through acts of kindness and gestures of generosity. Her tireless work ethic and high standards are what helps make Kidscycle so successful.
Kidcycle is a place where magic happens every day. It’s a hyper-local community where “Love and Lift” is the mantra that is driven home daily by the founders and the members. It’s a place where families can go for advice on where to take their kids for dinner, find babysitters and childcare options, or to even find a new home or rental. It’s a place where moms can go to vent, look for a like-minded soul, or know that they aren’t alone. It’s a tried and true community made up of families who believe in something bigger than themselves.
So how did it become more than just a buy-sell-trade group? After Annie got wind of a family that had just received a cancer diagnosis, she decided that she was going to donate the proceeds from her sales towards the family in need. People caught on to what Annie was doing and all of a sudden this small gesture became more than just that. People began donating items, money, and more.
And then…someone posted about a library needing books and a group banded together to raise money. And then someone knew a family who lost their home in a fire, and another group of people came together to gather items for them. And then someone posted about #olivesbranches and the people on the site starting sharing ways to pay it forward through random acts of kindness and giving to one another. Clothing five families in need. Raising funds for a new preschool playground. I could go on and on. Just today as I am writing this, there are people actively working together to support a local family who just lost their mother and another who recently received a cancer diagnosis.
With this history of “loving and lifting” families across the greater Milwaukee area, it is clear that Kidcycle is making a significant impact in our community. It is definitely more—much more–than a place to find some new (to you) shoes or snow-pants for your kiddos.
While Kidscycle has done some amazing things to support Milwaukee in big ways, a lot of the gestures that take place on the site are simple everyday things: gifting a package of newborn diapers, offering to pick something up on an Ikea run, or helping someone find a missing lovey in a nearby park. These actions are the norm on Kidcycle and it’s these little things that make this hyper-local community so special.
And sure, it’s not always rosy. People are human. While of course there can be issues, Annie and her team of admins work adamantly to keep Kidscycle a positive and safe spot. Much of the time, they deal with the negativity, complaints, and even sadly, some ‘cyber bullying’ on their own. By continually reminding the group and its members that “love breeds love” and trying to stay optimistic themselves, the group continues to be a safe place for parents to feel lifted, supported, and loved in a digital age.
So what does the future of Kidscycle look like? Annie isn’t sure how it will change and grow because many parts of it have evolved organically due to circumstances at the time. But, her big dream would be to find a lawyer that could help her get non-profit status for the group and all of its philanthropies.
It’s rare that I go a day without mentioning Kidscycle and how my family has benefited from the generosity, affordability, and gestures that have come from this beloved community. In a time when I can get so bogged down in the intensity of motherhood, life and world events, Kidscycle has given me encouragement and a reminder that there are still wonderful, generous people out there. I am so grateful to have Kidscycle as a part of my Milwaukee community.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Kidscycle or talking to Annie personally about starting your own group in your neighborhood please comment below and we will make sure to get you in touch!
Creating community is one of the primary goals of MKE Moms Blog. We’ve created Neighborhood Groups that will help you all facilitate playdates, mommy meet ups, learn more about your specific neighborhood or simply post a question to a group of moms. Whether you’re a new mom, new to the city, or just want to meet new friends, these groups will be the perfect way to connect with moms in your area.