The Collaboration for Early Childhood is hosting a diaper drive throughout August and is looking to the community for help. The Collaboration, an Oak Park-based nonprofit that works to connect families with children under 5 with resources, is collecting size 1 and 2 baby diapers and white onesies for 18-month-old toddlers now until Aug. 21. The items will be placed inside baby bundles, free bags given away to new and expecting parents packed with bibs, books, blocks, a bath thermometer and flyers to services, said Wendy Giardina, the nonprofit’s community engagement coordinator.
Donations can be dropped at Whirlwind Coffee, 513 Madison St. in Oak Park, and the Oak Park Bank, 151 N. Oak Park Ave. Donations can also be dropped off at Whirlwind Coffee’s Family Fun in the Side Yard event on Aug. 21, which runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Collaboration is accepting monetary donations, which can be made by visiting the nonprofit’s site at collab4kids.org and clicking the “Donate” tab at the top of the homepage.
The Collaboration launched the baby bundles project early last year and used a $10,000 grant from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation to fund the effort, Giardina said. The money allowed the Collaboration to do the project for an entire year, purchase the bundles’ items and give away 200 bags to families in Oak Park and the nearby suburbs. The foundation grant funded the project until this past June, and now the Collaboration is looking for ways to continue with the donation drive as part of another initiative.
“The goal was always to figure out how to make them self-sustaining within our budget,” said Giardina, adding the organization aims to make the baby bundles a “cornerstone” project and hand out bags regularly to area families. Last year’s grant funding allowed Collaboration staff to give away batches of baby bundles four different times, she said.
Giardina told Wednesday Journal the project is two-fold: Baby bundles are meant to raise awareness of the Collaboration and the aid they offer for families with young children, and the donation drive comes at a time when families nationwide continue to see rising costs for basic necessities, including diapers. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families struggle to provide clean diapers for their baby. Newborns use between eight and 12 diapers a day which can add up to about $80 a month, the network and Parents magazine reported.
“Diapers, like any other sort of personal hygiene product, is one of those things that kind of falls through the cracks,” Giardina said. “It’s not necessarily provided [at] places that people generally would go to get resources, and it’s something that they need every single day.”
“Sometimes, people try to go too long in between diapers if they don’t have enough,” she said. “Sometimes, they try to reuse, which as we know, is not good for the children. So, we just really want to be able to provide these kind of basic necessities along with the literacy aspect [in the baby bundles].”
With the diaper drive ongoing, Giardina told the Journal she wants people in Oak Park and the surrounding communities to know about the Collaboration – that the nonprofit is there for them.
“No one should have to discover the Collaboration by accident,” she said. “At the very least, what I would love is if their next-door neighbor moves in and has a child [age] 0 to 5 that you would go, ‘Hey, we have a thing called the Collaboration for Early Childhood in Oak Park. You should go check it out. They have things for everybody, and they can connect you to great resources.’”
Other than that, Giardina turned to the Collaboration’s mission to spotlight the need to support babies and toddlers.
“The earlier you invest, the more chance you have to make a difference,” she said.