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On June 6, eight volunteers of Bundled Blessings, an outreach program of First Methodist Church of Evanston, gathered at Northwestern University’s loading dock at 2020 Ridge Ave. to take delivery of a shipment of 40,000 diapers from the National Diapers Bank Network.
The diapers came in their original Huggies’ boxes, with 168 diapers per box, and the volunteers – in bucket brigade fashion – transferred about 250 boxes into a rental truck to transport them to their church at 516 Church St. Mayor Stephen Hagerty pitched in to help load the final boxes.
Sue Hagedorn, who co-chairs Bundled Blessings with Nancy Brown, told the RoundTable that the diapers will be repacked into quantities of 50, and distributed to nine Evanston agencies: Childcare Network of Evanston, Connections for the Homeless, District 65 Doorway to Learning Child Care Center, District 65 Early Head Start Program, District 65 Home Visiting Program, Family Advocacy Center at Family Focus, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston – Teen Baby Family Support Program and Baby Toddler Nursery, and Y.O.U. Street Outreach Program.
The agencies will then distribute the diapers to their clients.
The National Diaper Bank Network found that the shortfall between the number of diapers a low-income family can afford to buy each month and the actual number of diapers needed is about 50 diapers. The diapers provided by Bundled Blessings is thus a supplement; it does not fill a family’s entire need, said Ms. Hagedorn.
“Diapers are as essential to a child’s health and well-being as food and shelter, and yet diaper need (referred to as a silent crisis) in our country and our own community, affects one in three families,” Ms. Hagedorn said. “Bundled Blessings is the only diaper pantry between Chicago and Gurnee serving the needs of Evanston and surrounding communities. Federal programs do not allow for the purchase of disposable diapers, cloth diapers cannot be washed in public laundromats, most childcare centers require disposable diapers for your child to attend, and babies who remain in soiled diapers may face increased health risks – not to mention the emotional wear and tear on the care giver.”
While Bundled Blessings has been in operation for four years, this is the first time the organization has purchased diapers in such a large quantity, which enabled the organization to obtain a lower price, said Ms. Hagedorn. Bundled Blessings started out in 2013 serving 20 Evanston families, and has grown to distributing about 15,000 diapers each month, benefiting 330 families.
Gaining access to Northwestern University’s loading dock, which was arranged by Alan Anderson, Executive Director of Neighborhood and Community Relations at Northwestern, was key to taking a large delivery.
Ms. Hagedorn said Bundled Blessings plans to take large shipments three to four times a year. The group pays for the diapers with funds raised through charitable contributions and an annual fundraiser.
Rev. Jane Cheema, Pastor of First United Methodist Church said, “In Evanston, we’re finding more and more there’s a need for diapers. This is a way for our congregation to serve families in need. We did not want to duplicate services already being provided by other agencies.”
People may drop off new or opened packages of diapers at six locations in Evanston or make a cash contribution to Bundled Blessings. More information is available at www.faithatfirst.com.