NORTH BRUNSWICK – Students in North Brunswick have completed the largest diaper drive of the year–to date– in Middlesex County.
From mid-March to April 5, members of the Human Rights Coalition (HRC); the Project RISE (Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence) Committee, a part of the Student Government Organization (SGO); and the National Honor Society at North Brunswick Township High School worked together to collect 3,377 diapers from students and staff members to benefit the Central Jersey Diaper Bank.
“Everybody came together and pitched in,” said Ali Chouhdry, a freshman who is part of the HRC.
Ginny Adams Kafka, executive director, said this is a great help since the Central Jersey Diaper Bank, currently run through the Anshe Emeth Community Development Corporation (AECDC), will support more than 800 families about about 1,100 babies this year.
She said diapers can cost around $1,000 per year, per child.
“What you all have done is going to help us a lot,” Kafka said. “This is raising the bar big time.”
Rochelle Newman, a substitute teacher in North Brunswick who is part of the AECDC, brought the idea to the school last year. Students collected 2,200 diapers, mostly from staff members, in 2018.
This time around, members of the HRC made posters, put fliers in teachers’ mailboxes and spread the word to fellow students via morning announcements, according to Meha Pandejee, a senior who is president of the HRC.
“With each diaper we realized how much people care in our school, which is really amazing to see,” said Megan Gilmore, a sophomore who is a member of RISE.
“There was a buzz in the school,” said Kayla Scher, a senior who is a member of RISE and on the SGO executive board.
Kayla noted that with plans to study elementary education, this gave her an idea on new ways to help put families first.
Robert Neumann, a senior who is a member of RISE and the SGO president, said this effort was eye-opening for him, since he had no idea how expensive such an essential item is.
“We are able to provide some extra support, love and warmth,” he said.
In other ways to support the community at large, the HRC is selling stress balls in an effort to bring attention to child trafficking via the organization Love146; the SGO is on track to raise $5,000 for the Where Angels Play Foundation, which builds playgrounds in honor of children who are departed; and NHS has supported autism awareness, the Wounded Warriors Project, Adopt-a-Family and poverty awareness this school year.
“We have a lot of philanthropic organizations in our school,” Neumann said.
As part of the diaper drive, Judd Elementary School donated 20 packages of diapers, five containers of baby wipes and two bottles of baby shampoo collected from the end of March through April 8.
“We’re really happy and proud about that, because we do a lot of things for the community,” said Angela Singerline, a fifth grade teacher and Student Council advisor.
The idea stemmed from a parent at Judd who was familiar with the diaper bank. To spread the word, members of Judd’s Student Council handed out fliers, gave presentations in class, spoke with other students and used the school’s intercom system.
“We learned that a couple of people can actually make the community feel better and make us feel good about ourselves by helping the community,” said Sarah Levine, secretary of the Student Council.
“It helps us inspire more people to help out,” said Colton Leahy, Student Council vice president.
The students also hold food drives, raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, collect items for a local women’s shelter, and donate money to UNICEF throughout the school year.
“Helping people is fun,” said Christian Ford, treasurer of the Student Council.
“It’s so nice to know we can continue to help those people and children by doing this,” Singerline said. “I’m proud of our Student Council members, especially our executive board team, who inspire students to get involved in the local community and give back and be excited for the rest of our students, and be role models.”
Kafka said she is touched by the efforts of the students, both older and younger.
“I think the earlier we can impart upon children the responsibility to take care of people around them, we’re becoming more powerful citizens,” she said. “We are planting the seeds of responsibility to make great change. … The earlier we can empower children to fulfill social responsibility, the healthier we’ll all be.”
The Central Jersey Diaper Bank allows parents to pick up two weeks’ worth of diapers four times a year, by appointment only. Kafka said roughly 150,000 are distributed each year.
The diaper bank also collects baby clothing, wipes, formula, swings, equipment, cribs and car seats for families in need. The Adopt-a-Mom fundraising effort will be held in May in honor of Mother’s Day.
Students from the New Jersey Youth Corps pick up items from area drives, and also sometimes deliver to mothers in need.
The diaper bank has connections to 30 different agencies, such as WIC (Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), as well as social workers, family nurses and the Women Aware domestic violence shelter, according to Kafka. The organization is referral-based.
Although funding is received via grants, donors and sponsors, individual donations are welcome.