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Local diaper pantry receives $2,500 grant

Daria Lenderman, Reporter

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A local diaper pantry was awarded a $2,500 grant earlier this month for its work distributing diapers to families in need.

Evanston’s Bundled Blessings was one of 25 organizations to be awarded the $2,500 grant from the advocacy organization National Diaper Bank Network to support the diaper pantry’s work. Additionally, the National Diaper Bank Network awarded $10,000 to four more diaper banks in the country.

The National Diaper Bank Network aims to eliminate diaper need through a nationwide network of individual organizations. The group was formed in 2010 with the intention of raising awareness of diaper need and distributing needed resources. Today, the charity works alongside more than 275 diaper banks in the U.S., among them Bundled Blessings.

Based out of First United Methodist Church, 516 Church St., Bundled Blessings began in September 2013 and has grown to provide diapers for upwards of 150 children in the Evanston area. The organization works through a network of six agencies that help distribute the diapers to local families.

“The need for diapers is something that I don’t think any of us understood until we started doing research before we started doing Bundled Blessings,” said Sue Hagedorn, who serves on the organization’s committee.

Bundled Blessings seeks to end diaper need in the Evanston community, Hagedorn said. Insufficient access to diapers is an issue that affects one in three American families, and that statistic holds true for the Evanston community as well, she said.

Susan Van Ness, director of programs for the National Diaper Bank Network, said the grants are meant to help diaper banks grow and achieve long-term goals. Any member of the national network was eligible to apply for the grants, she said.

“What we wanted to do was invest in organizations that we knew were demonstrating sound business practices and the best non-profit business practices,” Van Ness said. “In the case of Bundled Blessings, the strategy in their proposal was to use the funds to raise visibility about diaper need in the community and about the work that the diaper bank does.”

Although they don’t directly interact with the families they affect, Hagedorn said members still have a sense of the benefits of their organization.

“I realize we’re touching people that we don’t get that one-on-one contact (with), we hear it through agencies that say how grateful they are,” she said.

Although the grant money cannot be used in the direct purchase of diapers, it is a major development in boosting Bundled Blessings’ exposure, Bundled Blessings co-chair Diane Pieterse said. Allowable expenses include technological support, printing materials, diaper collection bins and transportation costs, according to the National Diaper Bank Network’s website.

“It’s huge because we assure any donations that are made to our diaper pantry, 100 percent of those financial donations go to the purchase of diapers,” Pieterse said. “We have really not had a budget that has made it possible for us to do a lot of printing marketing materials.”  

With this grant, the Bundled Blessings organization has more support financially as it continues to combat diaper need in the Evanston community.

“We want to get that message out to people, as to why there is such a need for diapers, and the fact that there is need in Evanston for this service,” Pieterse said.

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