If you couldn’t provide diapers for your child, where would you turn? While this might not affect you personally, it probably hits closer to home than yo might think. In Collier County and Bonita Springs alone, there are over 1,500 families that have difficulty providing diapers for their babies. With diapers for one child adding up to at least $936 per year, it’s a costly, but necessary item. According to a study published in the Journal Pediatrics (July 29, 2013), “diaper need” — the inability to afford to keep a child in clean diapers — affects one out of three low income, working moms and babies in the United States each day.
Did you know that there is a 100% volunteer driven organization located right here in Naples that is championing this very cause? Baby Basics of Collier County was formed in 2004 by Jean Ann Lynch. Lynch had already successfully started several Baby Basics operations – including the national umbrella organization – and saw the need in this area.
So, how does Baby Basics of Collier County work? It’s pretty simple really. Families interested in the program are referred from local social service agencies and are screened for qualification. To participate in the program, families must meet certain criteria – which include at least one working parent or guardian, demonstrated financial need, and the family may not be receiving federal or state cash assistance.
Those families who meet the criteria come to the closest distribution site to pick up a free supply of diapers. Volunteers greet the families, help them select the proper size, and provide information about the next distribution and other opportunities for supportive services.
In the nine years since Baby Basics of Collier County’s inception, the numbers are staggering. The organization has grown from helping 10 babies to 345 babies each month; has impacted 1,600 families in Collier County and Bonita springs; and has provided those families with three million diapers.
Baby Basics of Collier County and its hundreds of dedicated volunteers decided it was important to celebrate this milestone and will host “The 3 Millionth Diaper Celebration” on Thursday, March 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Waterside Shops in Naples. The 3 Millionth Diaper Celebration will allow Baby Basics of Collier County volunteers and donors to celebrate this amazing accomplishment, while also educating the public about the organization’s mission. The evening will include live music and an array of delicious appetizers. Individual tickets to The 3 Millionth Diaper Celebration are just $25. Baby Basics of Collier County’s The Three Millionth Diaper Celebration is sponsored by Life in Naples, Waterside Shops, Classical 88.7, IMA Creative, Inc., Shula’s, Willow Creek Advisors, Patrick Dearborn LLC, The Beacon Group at Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley Naples, and escales PARIS.
Baby Basics of Collier County is so much more than just an organization. It’s a family. Just ask Steve Stresen-Reuter. Stresen-Reuter volunteers his time to distribute the tractor truckload of diapers that Baby Basics purchases to each of the eight distribution sites in and around Collier County. “I volunteer with Baby Basics because I believe that if you are blessed, you have to bless others. I believe in Baby Basics and want to help fulfill the organization’s mission,” said Stresen-Reuter.
And, just who does Baby Basics help? For a family in Immokalee, Baby Basics means the world. With a combined salary of just $1,800 per month from working in the tomato fields from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day, and three children, it is hard for this particular mother and father to make ends meet. With the assistance of Baby Basics, this family is grateful to now be able to buy shoes, clothing, and food for their children – who are now thriving in school.
For more information about Baby Basics or The Three Millionth Diaper Celebration, please visit www.BabyBasicsCollier.org.