FREEHOLD, NJ – The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been varied and far-reaching – and distress is not always related to health concerns. Monmouth County Commissioner Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley recently learned of an unforeseen need amongst the County’s expectant and parenting mothers.
On a call for Monmouth ACTS’ Early Childhood Success Hub, Kiley was surprised to learn from leaders of various service organizations that mothers across Monmouth County, particularly expectant young mothers struggling financially due to COVID-19, were having trouble finding diapers, wipes and other supplies for newborns and young children.
“It was such a specific need, it really struck me,” Kiley says. “The need was compounded not just by the lack of supplies, but because diapers and wipes can be so expensive, especially for a young mother who is struggling to pay the bills.” Fortunately, Kiley had a simple solution in mind – the Early Childhood Success Hub could partner with the RAINE (Reaching All in Need Everyday) Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established to support those in need in the Bayshore area and run by Kiley’s family. “It was a gap that could be fixed so simply,” Kiley says. “I thought, ‘Why can’t we do a diaper drive?’ The RAINE Foundation has a network of 500 volunteers. If I put it to them, they’ll all muster and support this.”
RAINE’s leadership and volunteers eagerly accepted the challenge, and began organizing a County-wide drive for diapers, wipes and other needed supplies. The Hazlet Police Department volunteered to become a 24/7 drop-off site for donations, and both members of the Early Childhood Success Hub and the RAINE Foundation began to spread the request for donations on social media. Grace United Methodist Church in Union Beach, which was already working with RAINE to collect pajamas for an annual drive, saw the request for diapers and pledged to begin collecting and donating those materials too.
At the end of the drive, the RAINE Foundation was able to deliver supplies to four Early Childhood Success Hub organizations that serve families across Monmouth County:
- Acelero Learning Freehold Center distributed around 950 diapers and 25 packs of wipes to 25 families, including two expectant mothers.
- Oceans Family Success Center in Asbury Park distributed around 1,250 diapers (including pull-ups) and 29 packs of wipes to 11 families.
- VNA Health Group served at least 20 families across its network with around 840 diapers and 10 packs of wipes.
- Bayshore Family Success Center in Middletown distributed 12 cases of diapers, 3 cases of wipes and a box of baby formula at its Baby Pantry.
“We were so happy to see the RAINE Foundation and Grace United Methodist Church step up so quickly to meet this critical need for our families in Monmouth County,” says Colleen Nelson, RN, MSN, Vice President Children & Family Health Institute, VNACJ and Co-Chair, Monmouth ACTS Early Childhood Success Hub. “The partner organizations receiving the diapers represented different geographic areas within the County to ensure delivery across a wide span of families. It is important during this pandemic to think of others and what you can do to help your neighbors, families and friends. A huge thank you to Commissioner Kiley, our volunteers and staff of the Early Childhood Success Hub organizations for carrying out this successful Diaper Drive.”
“Monmouth ACTS continues to be the great connector for our County’s human services organizations,” said Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone. “This is another fantastic example of resources and organizations in the County that are now getting to know each other and communicate at Hub meetings, resulting in better services for Monmouth County residents.”