NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Trina Bertoldi describes herself as having a “caregiver gene.”
She’s been volunteering in the NICU at Tampa’s St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital for four years and just started spending time helping Desiree Gagliardotto’s outreach, Little Llamas USA, about a year ago.
“It makes me joyful in turn to know that I’ve done something to make someone happy,” Bertoldi said.
Gagliardotto began Little Llamas USA with the hope that she could provide donated clothes to anyone who needed them. The first package went out in October 2018.
“God’s in motion,” she said back in February. “That’s how I see it.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gagliardotto has seen both the need and cost to ship clothing increase.
“We are just making do with what we can,” she said in a Zoom call on Monday. “We have many babies to take care of.”
Bertoldi’s “caregiver gene” took over after hearing about the financial needs of LLUSA. She decided to do something to help offset the rising cost of shipping clothes to mothers in need. She went to her craft room in her house, found some supplies, and started making glass charms for necklaces and keychains. She set up a Facebook page and began selling. In her first week, she made $150.
“God gave me the blessing for these children. He gets the glory, not me,” she said. “100 percent of the proceeds goes to Little Llamas.”
The glass pieces are seahorse, llama, or cross-shaped. Keychains sell on Facebook for $5 and necklaces sell for $10.
“Trina has volunteered for Little Llamas for over a year now,” Gagliardotto said. “She is very dear to our ministry and holds a special place in her heart for babies.”
Volunteering has been difficult during the pandemic. Gagliardotto operates her non-profit out of her home. She’s gone to contact-less drop-offs for clothing to limit opportunities for spreading the virus.
“People are still a little afraid to come into our space to volunteer,” she said. “We are about $12-14 per package (to ship).”
Little Llamas USA has shipped items to 43 states and helped hundreds of families get the clothes they need for children ages newborn to 4T. Each package includes hand-drawn artwork by a mother-daughter team from Palm Harbor and information about Little Llama’s mission.
“It helps people in need,” said Bertoldi, who says she’s assumed a quasi-surrogate mother role in Gagliardotto’s life.
To buy some jewelry and support Little Llamas USA, visit Bertoldi’s Facebook page.
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