Lucy Nugent, of Frenchtown, New Jersey, is a sixteen year-old with a mission: diapers. For the past two years, Lucy has been collecting diapers for the Maker’s Place, a nonprofit diaper bank in Trenton, New Jersey.
I had the chance to speak with Lucy and her mom, Kate, and ask Lucy what got her interested in diapers. “I babysit a lot,” she told me, “and I could see how important diapers are for babies and younger children.” Lucy heard about the problem of diapers through nearby Frenchtown United Methodist Church, and decided to host her own diaper drive. In late 2018, She set a box on her front porch, and invited family, friends, and neighbors to donate. Word quickly spread around town and on Facebook. “I was really surprised!” she said. “People kept bringing packages by!” By the end of December, she had collected 3100 diapers. “This year I’m hoping for at least 4000,” she told me.
It’s easy to miss how challenging diapers can be for many New Jersey families. Diapers can cost up to $900 a year, and are not covered by federally-funded programs like WIC or EBT (Food Stamps). Many lower-income and working families are forced to rinse and reuse soiled diapers, which can cause rashes and other severe health complications for babies.
Lucy’s diaper drive, and others like it, help bridge the gap. In fact, Lucy has done more than just donate diapers. Besides collecting at Christmas time, Lucy has followed her donations to Trenton, to volunteer at diaper distribution events through the Maker’s Place. Most recently, Lucy and her family came to Trenton to help at a first birthday party for one year-olds, hosted by the Maker’s Place. The event celebrated an important milestone for children, and addressed the issue of infant mortality—higher in Trenton than almost anywhere in the state—with the help of community health partners. “It’s been really amazing to help at distributions,” said Lucy, “and get a feel for how important it is to have diapers.”
Hosting a diaper drive not only helps families in Trenton—it has positive effects for those involved. We’ve seen partnerships spring up between churches and their surrounding communities, as people rally to a common cause. And we’ve seen the greatest impact among those who do what Lucy did, by following their donations and volunteering alongside families in Trenton.
The Maker’s Place is a member of the National Diaper Bank Network, an association of more than 300 community-based diaper banks across the U.S. Since April 2019, the Maker’s Place “Diaper Depot” has collected and distributed tens of thousands of diapers on a regular basis, with the help of diaper drives just like Lucy’s.
Lucy is collecting diapers this December, and her family is behind her all the way. “We told everyone to bring diapers with them when they came over for the holidays,” said Kate, Lucy’s mom. They’ve still got a box on their front porch, and are accepting diapers until December 22nd.
I hope you're inspired by Lucy's efforts as much as I am! Because of diaper drives just like hers, we're able to connect with families, distribute thousands of diapers on a regular basis, and grow as a community of hope.
All the best,