Livingston Resident Hosts Second Annual Diaper Drive

 

By Evan Wechman

 

Sara Franks and her family moved from Annapolis, Maryland to Livingston, New Jersey in June of 2021.  She was unaware this journey would create such a positive impact in the community.  However, Franks quickly realized after giving birth to her newborn son, Artie, that caring for a child was not only challenging work, but it was also expensive.

 

Fortunately, Franks and her husband Torey had good jobs and were financially able to provide all the necessities for Artie. But a thought did come to Franks.  She said “I had my son about a year and a half ago and I really saw firsthand the expenses of caring for a child.  When he was a newborn, I decided I’m going to put a calendar reminder for myself.  I’m going to commit to doing something to give back to other families around the holidays.”

 

Franks paid it forward by quickly organizing a much-needed diaper drive. She collected and donated 26,000 diapers to the Apostles House in Newark, a social service organization which helps low-income families in Essex County.  

 

This was done largely through word of mouth and Franks used her home garage as a storage facility. Though she is proud of this past holiday’s diaper drive, she is determined to surpass that amount this coming season.

 

The Livingston resident pointed out that 26,000 diapers only serves about 26 families in the area.  From her research and experience, it takes on average, approximately 1,000 diapers to care for a newborn per year.  This doesn’t account for other necessities such as ointments and creams.

 

Though she explained this is purely a diaper drive, she will not turn away any items people would like to donate such as baby formula or anything else that would help in caring for children.

 

Franks, who is confident she will exceed expectations, wants to get the word out early about the project.  “I think we all as parents know it truly does take a village and so let’s call on the Livingston community and beyond to help families in need this year,” she said.

 

Franks will be collecting diapers as early as possible and continue to do so throughout the holidays. She also wants people to know if they find they have extra diapers months later, she will arrange for them to be picked up and taken to the Apostles House in Newark.

 

Franks said “it’s so important to me to give back to a community that’s less than 20 minutes away from my home.  There are people right in or backyard that need help and it’s such an easy thing to do.  Last year, it was just an idea that popped into my head and all it took was an Amazon Wishlist and it kicked off a chain of events.  So much local coverage of the initiative inspired people in different states and it’s so easy and feels so good.”

There has been a ripple effect from last year’s initiative. For example, a grandmother from Philadelphia heard about it and coordinated a large drive there.  Also, a woman in New York City became motivated to start a diaper collection as well.

 

Franks is also hoping Hollywood star Kristen Bell and her husband Dax Shepard continue their support from last year. The actress and her husband are two of the founders of Hello Bello, a company which provides affordable diapers and other necessities to families nationally.  Last year, they were one of the campaign’s biggest contributors.

 

Franks is trying this season to reach local businesses as well. She is seeking their permission to allow drop boxes in their stores or offices.  People would then drop off a box of diapers while doing their dry cleaning, for example.  

 

 Though she wears many hats, Franks would love some volunteers.  She can be reached via email at sara334@gmail.com

 

Franks has been doing almost all the work herself but is very appreciative of her husband’s endless support.  She is also proud of her co-workers’ help at Real Chemistry, where she works as a media specialist in their New Jersey office.

 

With everyone in the Livingston area lending a hand, Franks is confident the diaper drive will help many local families care for their newborns. She said, “I can only imagine the feeling of caring for a little baby and not having the means to change your baby’s diaper when your baby should be changed, because you’re so nervous about running out of supplies.”

 

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