Parish Project: December Diaper Drive

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Each Advent & Christmas, our parish holds a December Diaper Drive. We pile up boxes of diapers under our Christmas Tree, and in January we give them to our local Crisis Pregnancy Centers and other non-profits. It is one of our most effective parish projects because it 1) builds on the Advent theme of expecting babies, 2) responds to a real and urgent need, 3) actively expresses our pro-life commitments, and 4) allows everyone to get involved.

Expecting Babies in Advent

In Advent, we enter a time of expectation, remembering God’s promise of a child who would set things right. This promise began in Genesis 3:15, in God’s judgment of the serpent:

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I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

The promise of God’s blessing through children continues through the scriptures, from God’s promise to Abraham to bless the nations through his descendants (Genesis 22:17-18), to Isaiah’s prophecies of a virgin giving birth to Immanuel, this Son who will be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6). This story is told in the opening readings of our Lessons and Carols Service.

All these prophecies are fulfilled in the pregnancy of Mary. The irony is that, though Jesus was expected by God and his prophets, to Mary this was an unexpected pregnancy (Luke 1:26-38). Thus December is a perfect time to care for pregnant moms, especially moms who did not expect their babies!

An Urgent Need

While any baby-related item could connect into the theme of the season, the provision of diapers is a real and urgent need. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, 1 in 3 families experience “Diaper Need,” having difficulty affording the diapers that their child needs. As a result, many families are forced to ration their supply, leaving dirty diapers on and imperiling the child’s health.

Moreover, our poverty assistance programs do not address diaper need. The federal food stamp program (SNAP), which offers a card to enable families to purchase items in supermarkets, does not allow for the purchase of diapers. The result is not only a difficult financial choice for families with children, but also an additional challenge for poor women with unexpected pregnancies.

Actively Pro-Life

Anglicans are explicitly pro-life, believing that each child deserves legal protection in both birth and childhood, and that abortion is deeply sinful, violating the sixth commandment against murder. At the same time, we should recognize that when a mom chooses to abort her child, she frequently does so under duress, either by way of relational or financial pressure. Multiple studies show that women who procure abortions cite socioeconomic factors as among the most prominent reasons for their decision.

By donating diapers to support mothers in need, we actively express our pro-life commitments. Of course, the provision of diapers only addresses one small piece of the socioeconomic puzzle. But by running our December Diaper Drive for the benefit of crisis pregnancy centers, we are able to support pregnant moms with tangible aid at the moment of decision.

In our context, we work especially with the Lafayette Pregnancy Center and Clinic, and the Opelousas Pregnancy Center. These organizations use the diapers not only to provide help, but also as a way of giving hope, showing that there is a broader community to support each mom as she chooses to have her baby. And after the baby is born, they give more diapers as part of an ongoing relationship and support network.

We also partner with Foster the Love and Beacon Community Connections to support the foster community and needy families on a case-by-case basis.

Everyone Gets Involved

Everyone can get involved in the December Diaper Drive. It’s easy to buy a box of diapers, and it feels great to give to such a worthwhile cause. Folks who want to do more can either give more, or organize the drive, or share the project with folks outside the church.

We started small. The first year, when we were a church plant of about 60 people, we collected diapers over one or two Sundays around Christmas, and were able to make one supply run to the pregnancy center. But the next year it grew, and we got people from the community involved: neighbors, businesses, school groups, other churches. One year, we set and actually met a goal of collecting 100,000 diapers! Much can be accomplished through the focused effort of a small and committed team.

How To Hold A December Diaper Drive

1) Begin by creating a visual focal point for the drive, ideally near the entrance of your church. We have found that a Christmas tree works wonderfully, since it wordlessly communicates the idea that the boxes of diapers are gifts, and connects the project to the season.

2) Either have the clergy or a lay-leader announce the drive during the announcements in the Sunday service. This works much better than a written announcement. Make sure to explain that Mary’s pregnancy was unexpected, and yet God provided for her as she chose to keep her baby. So we seek to provide help and hope to mothers in need.

3) (Optional) Share the drive with folks outside your congregation, asking neighbors, businesses, student groups, or other churches to join the effort.

4) Collect diapers in and around Advent and Christmas, anywhere between 2 and 5 weeks. Enjoy the excitement of the congregation as the diapers pile up!

5) Bring the diapers to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center, ideally in the beginning of January. If you have enough diapers, distribute also to other non-profits who work directly with moms in need.

Published on

December 14, 2022

Author

Peter Johnston

The Ven. Dr. Peter Johnston is the Ministry President of Anglican Compass. He is a priest and archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of All Nations and the rector of Trinity Lafayette. He lives with his wife, Carla, and their seven children near Lafayette, Louisiana.

View more from Peter Johnston

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