How do you collect 500,000 diapers in five weeks? One box at a time.
That’s the goal that HomeFront has set to collect by Mother’s Day on May 14 to help families who cannot afford to keep their babies in diapers.
HomeFront, which helps the homeless and the working poor, operates its own diaper resource center in a warehouse at its Family Preservation Campus in Ewing Township. The nonprofit group’s headquarters is in Lawrence Township.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hard for parents to find enough money in the budget to pay for diapers and baby wipes, HomeFront officials said. It costs about $80 to $100 per month per child.
That’s why HomeFront opened its Diaper Resource Center six years ago, officials said. Nationally, one in three mothers do not have sufficient access to diapers and baby wipes, according to the National Diaper Bank Network.
HomeFront’s Diaper Resource Center distributed 1.5 million diapers and baby wipes to parents in need in 2022 – either directly or indirectly by acting as a diaper bank for other nonprofit groups, officials said.
“Providing diapers to our families is essential to HomeFront’s core beliefs. As a key basic necessity, access to diapers is vital to our clients’ health and wellness,” said Dylan O’Neill, HomeFront’s Food Access and Client Services manager.
“Unfortunately, as inflation continues, diaper prices have skyrocketed. On average, HomeFront distributes between 70,000 and 90,000 diapers to more than 1,000 families per month,” O’Neill said.
There are no state or federal child safety net programs that allocate dollars specifically for the purchase of diapers. Food stamps cannot be used to pay for diapers, and that’s why HomeFront’s Diaper Resource Center is so important, officials said.
The Diaper Resource Center creates some breathing room in the budget so families who are trying to make ends meet can have help in getting diapers. If that need goes unmet, parents need to make hard choices – such as less frequent diaper changes, officials said.
“Basic necessities are often a huge barrier for many struggling families,” said Catherine Cozzi, HomeFront’s Resource Network director.
“Diapers can be a source of worry as soon as a child is born. Access to diapers is vital to keeping babies stay clean, healthy and dry,” Cozzi said.
But it’s more than just having enough diapers to keep a baby dry, HomeFront officials said. Without diapers, a baby cannot take part in early childhood education – and without childcare, parents cannot hold down a job. Most childcare programs require parents to provide diapers.
To meet the Mother’s Day Diaper Challenge, anyone who wants to participate can organize a diaper drive or purchase items off of HomeFront’s Amazon wish list by visiting HomeFront’s social media pages and website.
Diapers and wipes can be dropped off weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, at HomeFront’s Donation Center at 1880 Princeton Ave. in Lawrence Township.
For more information, call 609-989-9417, ext. 107, or visit HomeFront’s website at www.homefrontnj.org.