The South Bay is a community that has always been known for giving back. It’s not uncommon to see neighbors helping each other out when they need it, and there are many organizations in the South Bay that help make this happen. The Diaper Train is one of these organizations, but they do something a little different: They collect diapers from South Bay residents and provide them to families in need. But that’s not all! This week we are shining a spotlight on The Diaper Train and how you can get involved by donating or becoming a volunteer!
Help A Local Cause: The Diaper Train
Tell us a little about you
“My name is Ashley Heldman, I am a South Bay native, I work as a barista at Starbucks (although I have been on leave the past year.) I am really excited to be starting grad school for Social Work in August. My fiancé Joe and I have three children aged 15, 2, and 1. Joe works is a general manager for a mutual water company and has been working so hard to support us as the sole provider in our home. We enjoy attending church with our family at Church of the Beach cities in El Segundo. We also love going to the beach and playing sports together.”
Please tell us about your project, The Diaper Train
“This project really started out of necessity. I suffered severe postpartum depression and as a result, I was put on disability for the last year, which left my fiancé as the only source of income for our family. Money was definitely tight so I spent my time trying to research any way possible to save us money. One of the first things that came up for me were the high price of diapers and wipes. I was able to find various ways to pay little or nothing for diapers and wipes for my children and really wanted to find a way to share that with other struggling families. Then in March, I started posting inside a Facebook Group called The South Bay Support Pantry and that became the beginning of The Diaper Train. I made a post asking if other members wanted to participate in a “Diaper Train”, where we could find out who was expecting to give birth that month who were in need and then the families who had extra diapers or diapers that no longer fit their babies could donate them to the new moms & dads. The idea was we would start donating to the first families in need and the family that participated would give back and contribute any diapers their babies had outgrown. That way, there would be a way to continue passing on and helping new families in need – hence the “train” part. In addition to handing down left over diapers, there were also community members that purchased and would donate new diapers and wipes. I have met three absolutely incredible moms named Rosie, Songbird, and Heena who have volunteered their time to The Diaper Train. I am so grateful for these three women and their willingness to volunteer their time and energy to the project. The past four months we have collected NB-3 diapers and also wipes from the community to create “starter care bundles” of mixed sizes to deliver to families in need the month their babies are due. These donations allow the family to spend time with and focus on bonding with their babies in that first month and gives them bigger sizes to have on hand while the baby is growing as well.”
Who are you supporting with this project?
“We support low-income mamas and families in need the month their babies are due. The families were reaching out personally from local Buy Nothing Facebook groups or from the Support Pantry Facebook Page, but now we have created our own Facebook Group and Page for people to join called “The Diaper Train.” In the past four months we have donated 17,800 wipes and 7,100 diapers to 26 families. Currently, we can help at least ten families every month. If there are more donations provided then we can help more families. If someone requests help or is nominated but we have already reached our max number of families for that month, then they will be put on a waiting list to be added to the next month’s recipients.”
What inspired you to do The Diaper Train project?
“As a new mom I don’t have the usual family support as my mom passed away 5 years ago and my sister lives overseas. I have struggled with severe postpartum depression and as a result was on disability for the past year, so only my fiance was working. I have spent my time trying to find ways to save our family money and realized diapers and wipes are a huge expense – especially with multiple children. I wanted to share this with other families and thus “The Diaper Train” started. I have had my own life experiences with trauma and hardships. I experienced 2 years of homelessness and struggled with substance abuse. Some of this can be attributed to early childhood and an unstable home life. My mom struggled with her mental health and substance abuse. She was a single parent and often had no community support and didn’t feel she could ask for it. That desire to find ways to help families stay whole and to show as a community for one another has stayed with me. Now that I have a healthy full life, I want to spend my time making a positive impact in my community – especially with mommies, daddies, and families! Any little way we can work together to help alleviate financial insecurity and worry about meeting basic needs such as diapers to help families feel safe, secure, and supported so they can spend their time making meaningful nurtured connections with their babies is priceless. One person can’t do everything but all of us can do something.”
How can the community support your efforts?
“Check out our website TheDiaperTrain.com where you can sign up to find out more about our organization, get involved, donate, sponsor or nominate a family.
If you want to DONATE – We have an amazon wishlist available with the diapers of all sizes and wipes (wipes must be purchased new not handed down) that families need. That way you can help make a meaningful impact with literally just a click of a button and then we can help more families!!
We also have a Facebook Page – @TheDiaperTrain that people can LIKE and SHARE to help the community hear about us. If you or your company want to become a SPONSOR, we offer sponsor highlights in our monthly newsletter and on our website. There have been so many members of the community that have donated their time and services to help us build our foundation – all of our social media, website, hand sewn gift bags for the diapers (we also collect amazon gift bags) t-shirt printing, and graphic design for our logo have been so graciously donated. One item we are still in need of is our logo printed on stickers for the bundles we give out each month. If anyone would like to donate those please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, if you have any ideas or suggestions on ways that we can help more families, please feel free to reach out – we’re always looking for ways to evolve and be more efficient and help more families!”