Foundation fund

Local non-profit organizes diaper drive in August

The Early Years Collaboration is holding a diaper drive throughout August and is reaching out to the community for help. The Collaboration, an Oak Park-based nonprofit that strives to connect families with children under 5 with resources, collects size 1 and 2 baby diapers and white coveralls for toddlers – small children from 18 months until August 21. The items will be placed inside baby bundles, free bags given to new and expectant parents filled with bibs, books, pads, a bath thermometer and flyers for services, Wendy Giardina said, community engagement coordinator for the association.

Donations can be dropped off at Whirlwind Coffee, 513 Madison St. in Oak Park, and 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 August 21. which runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The collaboration accepts monetary donations, which can be made by visiting the nonprofit’s website at and clicking on the “Donate” tab at the top of the homepage.

The earlier you invest, the more likely you are to make a difference

Wendy Giardina

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 enabled the Collaboration to run the project for an entire year, purchase the items from the lots, and donate 200 bags to families in Oak Park and surrounding suburbs. The foundation grant funded the project until last June, and now the Collaboration is looking for ways to continue the campaign giving through another initiative.

“The goal was always to figure out how to make them self-sufficient within our budget,” Giardina said, adding that the organization aims to make baby packs a “cornerstone” project and regularly distribute bags to families. of the region. Last year’s grant enabled Collaboration staff to distribute baby bundles four times, she said.

Giardina told the Wednesday Journal that the project is two-fold: the baby packages are meant to raise awareness of the collaboration and help they offer families with young children, and the donation campaign comes at a time when Families across the country 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 babies. 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 type of personal hygiene product, are one of those things that slips through the cracks,” Giardina said. “It’s not necessarily planned [at] places where people would usually go to get resources, and it’s something they need every day.

“Sometimes people try to go too long between diapers if they don’t have enough,” she said. “Sometimes they try to reuse, which we know is not good for children. So we really want to be able to provide those kind of basic necessities with the literacy aspect [in the baby bundles].”

While the diaper drive is underway, Giardina told the Journal that she wants residents of Oak Park and surrounding communities to know about the collaboration — that the nonprofit is here for them.

“No one should have to find out about the Collaboration by accident,” she said. “At least what I would like is for their next door neighbor to move in and have a child [age] 0 to 5 you would say, ‘Hey, we have a thing called the Collaboration for Early Childhood in Oak Park. You should go check it out. They have things for everyone and they can connect you to great resources.

Other than that, Giardina turned to the Collaboration’s mission to shine a light on the need to support babies and toddlers.

“The earlier you invest, the more likely you are to make a difference,” she said.