Photo courtesy of Sara Franks
By Steve Sears
With a young son nearing his first birthday, Livingston’s Sara Franks certainly experienced the need for diapers in 2021.
In the fall, she turned her heart towards helping others by starting a Diaper Drive for The Apostles’ House in Newark, New Jersey. “We’re super, super excited by the response that it’s getting,” Franks said in November, when the number of collected diapers had hit 20,000.
And she had additional good news during this interview. “Hello Bello, which is a diaper company founded by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard…they got word of the effort. They are donating 140 packs of diapers directly, and they shared the drive last night on their Instagram, which is really amazing. So, we’re hoping that that helps to get the word out even more.”
The diapers that have filled the Franks home have been donated to The Apostles’ House, a non-profit whose mission is (courtesy of their website), “devoted to providing comprehensive social services to homeless women and children and individuals or families at risk of homelessness in Newark and Essex County, New Jersey.” Franks, 33, had planned on holding the drive until Thanksgiving, but then extended it to the end of the year. She will happily accept donations beyond the new year as well. The Apostles’ House also accepts donations directly from the public.
Franks, who is able to have a supply of diapers and formula for her young son, realized that there are others not so fortunate. Therefore, she set a calendar reminder for herself to plan and set up her holiday season endeavor. “I figured diapers were something that everyone can relate to,” Franks says. “It’s been tremendous, and I think a lot of people can identify with all the supplies that go towards taking care of a kid.” Franks also adds that the timing for her Diaper Drive was made more relevant due to COVID-19. “It was sort of interesting, because we had our son during the pandemic. Obviously, during that time, families had been really hit hard, from a financial perspective with job losses and so forth, and costs had also gone up for products that are manufactured with certain material, like diapers. So, it was sort of an interesting time for the effort as well.”
Franks and her husband tapped their entire network of family and friends, and their many colleagues shared news of the Diaper Drive on social media. Franks adds, “I can say a lot of attention and support has come from the local area. I’ve shared the details on multiple Facebook groups for local families and moms in particular, and that’s been really well received. We’ve also gotten some great local media coverage, and I think that’s also helped to rally folks locally.” Franks also mentions that, when she opens all the different packages received via her Amazon page, gift messages are sometimes enclosed with the diapers. “When we get packages from people that we don’t know the names of, that kind of goes to show the strength of storytelling in the area. People really want to participate.”
Franks also cites that there are folks who have embraced her idea and started diaper drives of their own. “I have a mom friend in New York City who activated something similar for another organization, and another family is looking into starting something in the Philadelphia area. My hope is that people contribute to this cause and help with diapers for The Apostles’ House, but that they also are inspired to give back to other organizations and other communities across the country, whether that’s diapers or otherwise.”