ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

AECDC diaper bank assists families in need

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

This mom of two needs diapers for her children and on this day she’s getting them for free.

“It just provides that little gap in between transitioning through certain financial issues,” said client Tiyonia.

Tiyonia is picking up baby supplies at the Anshe Emeth Community Development Corporation or AECDC in New Brunswick. Nearly 20 years ago a Rabbi inspired his congregation to help Middlesex County residents with basic needs. The nonprofit now provides parents with the essentials needed to keep their babies healthy.

“Health wise we talk to pediatric nurses at the hospitals who tell us that they see these terrible instances of diaper rash, which then can become infected. And it’s such a basic thing for a baby to be comfortable. We knew of clients in the area whose babies would spend a whole day in one diaper,” said AECDC President Deborah Cherniss.

“We found that one in three low income moms described feeling as though they experienced diaper need, so that is one in three low income parents are not able to provide a clean, dry diaper for their child every time they feel the need to,” said CEO of National Diaper Bank Network Joanne Goldblum.

The National Diaper Bank Network indicates disposable diapers cost 70 to 80 dollars per month, per baby.

“It’s very, very expensive. I’ve tried many ways of doing coupons and such, and it still comes out to be very, very unaffordable,” said Tiyonia.

More than 300 diaper banks throughout the country are part of the National Diaper Bank Network. AECDC is proud to be in that group. The New Jersey nonprofit typically serves about 700 families a year and distributes as many as 80,000 diapers annually. The AECDC works with agencies that refer clients.

“Three quarters of our clients come only once. They just need that little helping hand and then they’re OK,” said Cherniss.

“It feels great to be able to supply the needed assistance to people within the community, but at the same time it feels bad because there’s never any shortage of it,” said AECDC Program Coordinator Adam Cohen.

Ivette Davila was picking up baby supplies for her niece’s son.

“It brings me joy just know that there’s a place where they can go and get the services they need,” said Davila.

The National Diaper Bank Network says most day care centers require parents to supply disposable diapers daily.

“If you can’t bring your child to day care, you can’t go to work. So really some times something as small as a diaper can be the difference between a family being able to be self-sufficient, and not being able to be self-sufficient,” said Goldblum.

AECDC uses grant money and financial donations to buy wipes, car seats, baby food, formula and diapers. They also run diaper drives and a charity provides them with new clothing.

AECDC operates out of an office in New Brunswick, but that’s not enough room for the amount of supplies they have on hand. They stack items in a warehouse and high school volunteers organize the space and deliver the supplies either to the office or a client’s home.

AECDC only has one paid employee, the rest of the team volunteers.

“It’s gratifying. These people really need help, they need help. It’s really the simple things of food, clothing and shelter,” said Matt Feldman, AECDC vice president.

Tiyonia is leaving with diapers, wipes, baby clothes and a donated crib. She says she’ll teach her own children to give back.

Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.