A group of students at the Cranbury School are leading an initiative in their quest to assist struggling families receive baby diapers.
The students are collecting new diapers for low-income families from Dec. 3-13, during the first-ever Diaper Drive at The Cranbury School. The diapers that are being collected will go to the Central Jersey Diaper Bank, a project of Anshe Emeth Community Development Corporation (AECDC) in New Brunswick.
“We are hoping to collect 3,000 diapers during [that] week. We have never done this before and that number may be a little ambitious, but our students are motivated to galvanize the student body,” said Sara Fernandez, Perspective and Equity in Action Club advisor. “We need the Cranbury community’s support.”
Spearheading this effort are Cranbury students from the Perspective and Equity in Action Club (PEAC) and the Kindness Club.
“We are hoping our students will energize the community and they are going to be in charge of pushing this Diaper Drive out on social media. They will come up with creative and artistic ways of showing what we are doing,” said Danielle Burke, PEAC advisor. “The students will also be talking to their classmates to provide the educational aspect of why diapers matter. In their own lives, many of these students have a connection to younger brothers and sisters and have never probably thought of the impact that diapers can make in closing the equity gap.”
According to AECDC, a baby needs 10-12 diapers a day and a toddler needs about eight.
Officials explained that 36% of parents living in poverty, routinely run out of diapers for their infants and toddlers.
“A lot of the things that we learned through this process was new information to me, as well as the students. For example, if someone does not have disposable diapers they cannot take their baby to daycare. If you can’t take your baby to daycare you can’t go to work,” Fernandez said. “This is a huge problem for many people when [it] cost about $100 a month to keep a baby in a clean diaper.”
There are going to be two big collection boxes in the school where students can drop off the diapers – one in the cafeteria and another in the annex hallway, Burke said.
“Our students really took this idea for the drive on and wanted to do this. The students really want to do more and get active in the community,” Burke said. “This drive showcases to them that activism is local and not necessary global and world-wide.”
Organizing this drive began in October, and is a collaboration between PEAC and Kindness Club students and advisors. Kindness Club advisors Teresa Leary and Nichole Ball are helping advise the students for this drive along with Fernandez and Burke.
Eighth grader Navika Sonig is one of those students. She is a PEAC member and said that it feels great to be a part of organizing the drive to help families in need.
“I know diapers are a cost that every family has to provide for their children; the fact that The Cranbury School can help with that is really nice,” Navika said. “I never knew how important diapers are, as a cost for families. I never knew it cost so much to purchase diapers each month, so it means a lot to me to be a part of this drive.”
Ava Sulkowski, an eighth grade Kindness Club member, said that it is important to help the children whose families may be in need of diapers.
“I was so blessed to have clean diapers and so were my siblings, but now knowing that there are children who may not have that consistent option is very upsetting. We want to help them as much as possible with this drive,” Ava said. “We are working to get as many people as we can to participate in this drive. This is a great opportunity for our school to raise awareness.”
Heidi Engelbert, an eighth grade PEAC member, said people need to be made aware of the issue of diaper accessibility for those who need them.
“I am really excited because we will get to help a lot of people. We need to get the information about this drive out in the open,” Heidi said. “The best part of this will be the statistics and numbers of how many diapers we were able to give to the Central Jersey Diaper Bank. We just want people to donate and spread the word. This drive going to help so many families.”
Those who may not have children in The Cranbury School, but still wish to donate, can do so by dropping the diapers off at the main office.
“By providing diapers as a service to anyone who needs them is a safety-net until the systemic issue of inequality is fixed,” Burke said.
For more information about the Diaper Drive, contact the Cranbury School at 609-395-1700.