Linda Tarkington and Christy Preston are moms for more than just their own kids.
Tarkington and Preston, who manage the “Townie Moms” Facebook page, said they get messages daily.
They are often asked questions about Lafayette, where both moms were born and raised, but sometimes they’ll help out students.
One time, when a student’s father died, they picked the student up from the airport because she didn’t have a ride, Preston said.
Both of the moms own their own businesses, which allows them flexibility to volunteer whenever someone needs help.
The group started from a group of moms whose kids went to the same high school, Tarkington said.
“When all of our kids came over here as freshmen,” she said, “we just moved our volunteerism over here to Purdue.”
Preston has a daughter who goes to Purdue, and a son who recently graduated from Purdue. Tarkington’s two sons have now graduated from Purdue, but she still helps volunteer because she started the Facebook page.
Though there are a few core moms, membership in the group isn’t very structured, she said, and the group is open for whoever’s willing to volunteer.
A lot of what they do is answer questions, but the townie moms have helped students move, passed out free cookies and flowers for Valentine’s Day and helped out with BGR.
The group also raises money for ACE food pantry by selling baskets on the Facebook page.
Tarkington will often take pictures or videos of the students she helps, to send to their parents, once standing in the cold to record students sledding down Slater Hill.
“We try to be the mom that the kids don’t have when they’re out of state,” Preston said.
Tarkington said she’s made mom-friends all over the country. She’s even helped international students adjust to life here.
A couple years ago, a Brazilian family that knew nothing about Indiana reached out to Tarkington and Preston. Both moms met with the 16-year-old student and his family for a couple of hours answering questions about Purdue, Indiana and what to wear in the winter.
“They were so grateful,” she said, “and it just really made a huge difference. And it makes us feel good, that we’re being welcoming parents and, and citizens of this of this community,”
They’re still in contact with that family, Tarkington said.
Preston said they freely give their cell numbers to students and often stay in contact with them throughout their time at Purdue.
“When you send your child far away, and they don’t know anybody,” Presten said, “or you don’t know anybody, it’s nice to know that you can have somebody’s cell number that’s in town that would go and help them.”
Tarkington took one student to the orthodontist every six weeks for three years, she said. The family set up orthodontics at a local dentist office where Tarkington daughter’s worked, but the student had no way of getting there.
As for the name of the group, Tarkington said, the term “townie” is often used by the community to refer to individuals from around the area.
When Tarkington was first setting up the page, another mom suggested the name.
“‘What name should we call ourselves?’” Tarkington said. “She goes, ‘Townie moms. What else would you call us?’”