This is a guest post from our friend Wendy who recently hosted a diaper drive via her awesome blog Wendolonia. We are so grateful to you, Wendy, for helping to spread the word and turning rhetoric into action. Be sure to pay her a visit – her craft projects and bento box creations totally knock our socks off!
I was introduced to Help a Mother Out a few months ago when my friend Whitney held a diaper drive. I read a little about the organization, donated some outgrown diapers to the bin in her driveway and went about my business. But then something interesting happened. When I reached for a diaper while changing my son that night, I wondered what it would be like if there were no diapers in the drawer. I thought about how I would actually handle it if I had only a few diapers and no money coming my way for another week. What would I do? The scenarios I came up with were not pleasant and I was very grateful to have a pile of full of fresh, clean diapers to wrap around my boy’s chubby little tushie. And then I kept thinking about those babies and their mothers, and I decided I had to try to do what little I could to help them by holding my own diaper drive.
I set a goal to collect enough money and diapers to be able to donate 1000 items to Help a Mother Out and then I got busy. I started by putting a donation box on my front porch to collect diapering supplies from people who were local. Then I created a PayPal account to accept cash donations from people who weren’t nearby.
Next, I wrote a blog post introducing HAMO, my diaper drive and linking to the PayPal account. I created a large banner for my sidebar so it would stay front and center on my blog for the duration of the diaper drive. Finally, I turned to the social networks and posted notices with links to my blog post on Twitter, Facebook and Identi.ca every couple of days. I chatted up my friend and neighbors about the diaper drive. I sent an email out on my family mailing list. I would have asked my co-workers to contribute, but I’m an independent contractor who works from home (as is my husband) so instead I asked my brother-in-law (Hi Bryan!) to email his co-workers and collect diapers from anyone at his large company who was willing to donate. And then the donations started coming in. Most people used PayPal to contribute, but a few packs of diapers were also dropped into the bin on my porch and each contribution was so exciting!
When I finally wrapped up the drive, $300 had been donated to the PayPal account. I did a lot of research online looking for diaper coupons and comparing prices at the big box retailers, and in the end I figured out that the per diaper price of Target’s Up & Up brand was the best bargain. I had to make two different trips to Target to fit all the diapers in my station wagon because I neglected to completely clear out my trunk before heading out the first time (not to mention the fact that it’s hard to maneuver two carts full of diaper boxes all by yourself).
One of the benefits of the cash donations was that in addition to being able to get the most bang for my buck, it also allowed me to be picky about sizes when I shopped so I could purchase diapers in the bigger sizes — pull-ups and size 4, 5 and 6 diapers — which are more urgently needed. When I finally collected all the diapers in one place, I had a grand total of 1701 diapers!
This is what my trunk looked like when I went to meet Lisa from HAMO to deliver the diapers. They completely filled the back of our station wagon and I even had to pack some into the back seat with my baby. He helped me deliver them and even dressed to match the diaper boxes! (Just kidding — that was a coincidence.)
So here are some of the things I learned from this experience: Holding a diaper drive is fun and it felt fantastic to see a big pile of boxes that were going to make a real, tangible change in someone’s life. People really like babies and toddlers and want to help them. Everyone I spoke to about this project was very enthusiastic about donating something. Holding a diaper drive is easy. The hardest things I did was to write a blog post and a short email to reach out to people and everything else kind of took care of itself. I suppose you could call my two trips to buy diapers “work”, but it was so fun to load up a shopping cart to over-flowing that it didn’t seem difficult at all. A regular person can make a big impact! My blog has a pretty modest readership, but I was able to use it to reach out to people and encourage them to make small donations to this good cause. A few people made generous donations, but most of the donations were in the $5-$10 range. The majority came from family and friends. What I’m trying to say here, is that this is something anyone could do. You don’t need to have a huge social network, or an extremely popular blog or connections or anything like that to make an impact. I would encourage anyone who wants to make a difference in their community to check out the resources Help a Mother Out offers for holding your own diaper drive and try it themselves.
Wendy Copley is a writer, crafter, bento-ist, photographer, wife and mama who blogs at Wendolonia. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two young sons.