(NEW YORK) — With a stroller and a Facebook post, a New York City mom was able to collect 20,000 diapers to donate to families in need.
Audrey Symes, a consultant and mom to a then 2-year-old, was looking for a way to volunteer in her free time. So she called the Good Plus Foundation and asked them if she could help out, perhaps by updating spreadsheets.
But what they really needed, Symes told ABC News, was diapers.
“I had never heard of this need,” Symes said. “My daughter was till in diapers. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
So she posted to a popular Facebook group called UES Mommas, which has about 30,000 members. “I was hoping to get 500 diapers with that post,” she said. “I got about 1,200.”
Symes collected the diapers by walking around the neighborhood and picking them up from moms or in building package rooms. She was inspired.
“There are so many reasons why you might have leftover diapers,” she said. “The child moves to a different size or you decide to potty train. If I had one message I want to get out it’s that you can donate open packages of diapers.”
For people who want to donate but don’t live close enough to get their diapers to Symes, the National Diaper Bank Network can help.
“By focusing on diaper need, the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) works to meet the basic needs of all children and families living in the United States,” Joanne Goldblum, CEO of NDBN told ABC News. “Our mission is to raise awareness of diaper need, strengthen community-based diaper banks, and generate donations of dollars and diapers, so that all babies remain clean, dry and healthy.”
The issue of not having diapers, she said, extends well beyond the obvious.
“Most child care centers require parents to provide the diapers their children use, many parents do not use child care when they do not have clean diapers so they either miss work or school, or use less optimum child care for the day,” Goldblum said.
In a survey taken by the organization of families in diaper need taken this past summer, 57 percent said that they missed work or school because of a lack of diapers that month.
Goldblum shared with ABC News the story of how a lack of diapers was truly affecting one family’s quality of life.
“They didn’t have a lot, but they worked hard to make ends meet. So when the husband, who served in the Army reserves, got deployed overseas, their plans and financial stability were interrupted. He made significantly less [money] during this time. The wife quit school and got a part time job, but the cost of daycare for their 8-month-old and transportation still made it difficult to pay their bills.
“Sometimes, she had to call out of work because she had to choose between buying gas or diapers. She learned about her local diaper bank from another military spouse and began getting help with diapers and baby essentials. Getting help with the diapers and wipes had a tremendous impact on this family’s ability to provide the basic necessities and work towards a better future and she didn’t have to choose between buying diapers or gas.”
The organization collects more than 250,000 diapers a month.
There are hundreds of diaper banks around the nation, and people can find their local diaper bank on the organization’s website. They also can donate directly to NDBN on that website.
Since that first Facebook post in June of 2016, Symes has continued collecting in her neighborhood, to the tune of 20,000 diapers so far. She collects the majority of them as she did in that very first round: walking her stroller from building to building.
“It’s my passion,” she said. “I want to prevent a child from a rash or enable a mom to work.”
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