Can you believe the Blessing Closet, under the direction of Zion’s Social Ministry Committee, has existed for over four years? It has continued to be very successful at collecting new and gently used clothing for children and their families and offering quarterly distributions to families in Buffalo and surrounding areas without any restrictions or qualifications. However, the Blessing Closet has identified another need in our community where it can expand its services to help clothe people in need, which is by providing diapers to children.
The cost of diapers puts a tremendous struggle on families financially and emotionally. It is reported that families with children in diapers spend 11% of their monthly income on diapers which means other items like food, clothing and health items get cut back. Research has also shown that children without necessary diaper changes dramatically increase their risk of rashes and urinary infections causing serious health issues. We realized the need when the Blessing Closet distributed free diapers on a one-time basis last April to children under three years of age, and found the demand doubled our estimates. Adding to the demand, the local Crisis Nursery office in Buffalo closed in November due to funding shortages and they were a source of diapers for parents in need. All of this explains the growing need to provide diapers in our local community!
It was determined that instead of doing a one-time Blessing Closet diaper distribution this year, it would be more effective to provide diapers on an ongoing monthly basis to families known to be in need. How to set the criteria and determine what families could best utilize the donation of diapers was the question. The answer was found right here under our nose at Zion! It so happens that WIC (Women, Infants, Children) meets with their clients during the first week of each month right here at Zion. WIC is a Federal Assistance Program for the health care and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under 5 years of age. Fortunately, WIC has agreed to screen the families they serve and determine who could best use the donations of diapers for their children.
Starting in February, the Blessing Closet will provide 10 boxes of diapers each month to deserving families chosen by WIC. This will be a contribution into the community of about $3,000 annually. None of this money will come from Zion’s General Fund, but funding will come from the congregation contributing to the special envelope received every month called ‘Local Missions’!
It is the role of Zion’s Social Ministry Committee is to go out beyond the walls of Zion and respond to Zion’s vision of ‘creating a community where people are connected in relationships and supported in need.’