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Issaquah's Eastside Baby Corner has special connection to the Mariners

Two of the volunteers said when they're not at the center, they are watching a Mariners game, especially in the late innings.

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — On the outside, it looks like just a nondescript building in an Issaquah office park. But on the inside, the activity is buzzing.

There are volunteers bagging diapers and baby formula in one aisle and toys and clothes in another row.

"We are about making sure that kids have what they need to thrive," said Helen Banks Routon of the Eastside Baby Corner. “Tangible things like diapers, food formula, clothing that a child from birth through age 12.”

The Baby Corner, which has been around since 1990, handed out 1.8 million diapers and 6,000 cans of baby formula in 2021.

“I grew up with seven children. We were really poor, and at Christmas, we would get help from the city and stuff. When those bags would come, we were super excited," said Denise Vance, who grew up in eastern Canada and now works on behalf of Kent Youth and Family Services.

Vance is one of 75 providers in five counties that works with the Baby Corner to deliver what they need.

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Both Vance and Banks Routon said when they're not at the center, they are watching a Seattle Mariners game, especially in the late innings.

"Every pitch matters," Banks Routon said with a twinkle in her eye.

"My passion is for Paul," said Vance. “Put him in the game, and we need those diapers." 

Vance is referring to Mariners reliever Paul Sewald, who has taken the Baby Corner under his right throwing arm

“[My wife] Molly and I had our daughter Chloe last year, and we realized how difficult it is to raise kids," Sewald said before the M's game Friday.

“We can get everything we need, but not every family is necessarily as lucky as we are," Sewald said while leaning on the M's dugout.

Sewald has publicly announced he will donate $200 to the Baby Corner for every strikeout this season. As of Memorial Day, he has 16 strikeouts on the season.

"I try and strike out every single person," said Sewald. “Last year, I struck out 104 people, second in the American League in relievers. That is my goal again this year. Off to a little slower start, but we have a lot longer to go and turn it on a little bit."

But Sewald said it's about more than just the money. It is about raising the profile of the organization, which is doing so much on a volunteer basis.

He's also created a cheering section in that building back in Issaquah.

“There's definitely a lot of personal investment now in watching Paul come in and get those great innings and make a lot of strikeouts," said Banks Routon. "You should have seen me at the Mother's Day game."

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