The week after Thanksgiving is always a weird one. You’re full of pie, dizzy from all the family time, and it’s an odd few weeks before the holiday season is in full swing. Enter Giving Tuesday, a day where you can look outside yourself and take a moment to give back. The Miami Diaper Bank is the perfect example of a non-profit that’s making a true difference in the world.
Between donating close to a million diapers throughout the recovery process to families affected by Hurricane Irma and sending Cutie diapers from Jet to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, they are making a significant difference every day.
We spoke with Executive Director and Co-Founder Roberto Schaechter to learn a little bit about the Miami Diaper Bank, and how you can help out and give back this Giving Tuesday. If you want to donate directly, you can do so right here!
Tell me a little about the history of Miami Diaper Bank.
Miami Diaper Bank had a humble beginning as a small community service project that my son, Jonah, founded when he was just 13 years old. After hearing about the diaper crisis and an active Diaper Bank in Connecticut on NPR, Jonah organized a diaper drive at his school and collected over 1,000 diapers. When he looked for a diaper bank to donate the diapers to locally, assuming there would already be a Miami Diaper Bank in existence, he couldn’t find one and realized the need in the South Florida community was much more than he expected.
Jonah approached me about creating an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization for his 8th grade class project, and I thought it was an amazing idea. Over the past few years Miami Diaper Bank has grown and taken on a life of its own. Jonah is now attending college, but is still actively involved with the Miami Diaper Bank in his free time.
What made you passionate about helping children and families especially?
Jonah’s empathy was really the driving force of creating an organization to support children who don’t have a voice. He felt it was an injustice that babies don’t have enough clean diapers and felt moved to provide them with these basic necessities. It’s really not fair that babies have to suffer because their parents simply can’t afford diapers and are unable to turn to the government for help.
The fact that government assistance programs such as food stamps and WIC don’t cover diapers is just shocking and if we don’t help children the consequences go way beyond just health problems. It’s really a vicious cycle because if parents can’t afford diapers then they can’t send their children to daycare, and without childcare they can’t go to work. If parents can’t work, then they don’t have enough money to afford diapers. It’s a catch-22.
We were eager to be the voice of South Florida babies and fill this gap in our community. Although there are other amazing organizations in our community that assist children with items such as clothing, food, and toys there wasn’t really anyone at the time that focused solely on diapers and fulfilling this basic need in the greater Miami area.
What is a typical day like at the Diaper Bank?
Since we’re a small organization, everyone wears a lot of hats. From meeting with our community partners to dropping off diapers at a shelter to setting up a booth at community events to help spread the word — every day is very different! We are committed to making a difference in the lives of babies in our community and it’s really rewarding to see our hard work make such an impact in the lives of families throughout South Florida.
What is something you would like people to know about the diaper crisis?
The diaper crisis is a silent malady because it hides behind closed doors. Babies have no voice and families often have to reuse diapers because they can’t afford to buy enough clean diapers for their children. Parents who can actually afford diapers can’t even imagine not being able to put a clean diaper on their baby every time they need to be changed.
It’s also important for people to understand that the diaper crisis doesn’t just affect homeless and unemployed families, it affects working parents too. Most low income jobs don’t pay enough to cover the bills and basic expenses of a child. Almost all daycares require parents to provide diapers for their child to attend (and don’t allow cloth diapers) so if you can’t afford disposable diapers, then you can’t place your child at daycare and thus it becomes difficult to get steady work or go to school.
It’s difficult to expect struggling families to work on their personal and financial growth if they can’t even provide their children with basic essentials like diapers.
What can people do to get involved this holiday season?
A great way to get involved is to create fundraising opportunities to bring together your friends and family to support other families who need the extra help this holiday season. Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen a lot of creative ideas such as hosting a taco night, donating your special event to Miami Diaper Bank and even a neighborhood lemonade stand! Donating diapers or dollars through Jet.com goes a long way because of the special diaper discount we have access to through the JetCares program. If you can’t afford to donate dollars or diapers you can always offer to volunteer to assist with diaper deliveries to local shelters or even help spread the word about our cause on social media.
How can people find you online or social media?
What is a piece of advice you have for anyone looking to give back during the holidays?
It’s important to keep in mind that parents really can’t focus on the joy of holidays if they can’t even afford to provide their babies with basic essentials like diapers. Although toys are a major part of the holiday giving season, we believe a great way to support parents is by making sure the basic needs of their family are met first. Donating diapers or basic essentials for a child is really a win-win — it helps a child be healthy throughout the holidays and also eases the financial burden for parents so they can enjoy spending time with their family without having to worry about how they are going to afford enough clean diapers.