Just 24 hours after being co-coordinator of a first-time charity event, Cheryl Ashcroft was looking forward to doing it again, perhaps on an ongoing basis.
Collecting diapers. Diapers to be distributed to the needy by the Jersey Shore Dream Center in Asbury Park.
Over three hours on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 25, Pagano’s UVA restaurant and wine bar in Bradley Beach hosted the Dream Center’s First Annual Diaper Drive.
“It was between 2,500 and 3,000 diapers, I’d say,” said the Rev. Isaac Friedel, founder and chief executive officer of the Dream Center and pastor of its parent church, the Shore Christian Center Church.
Additionally, coming in was $130 in cash and $50 in gift cards at UVA’s, for which the restaurant’s owner – Anthony Pagano, a new father himself – donated an appetizer to contributors, along with $500 gathered by Ashcroft of Point Pleasant and fellow coordinator, Neptune resident Tim Colberg. Half the $500 came from Colberg and Aschroft’s community organization, the Manasquan Elks Club, and the other $250 they collected from friends and Jersey Shore University Medical Center co-workers.
Added up, the Diaper Drive raised about $1,500 in diapers or monetary donations, Friedel said.
The importance of the diaper donations is they are necessary, yet uncovered by government programs; diapers are costly; a child goes through a lot; and donations are hard to come by.
Friedel estimated it costs $75 a month to keep one child in diapers. The Jersey Shore Dream Center diaper pantry supplies diapers to the needy on a weekly basis. Last year, the Dream Center donated diapers to about 150 families, Friedel said.
It is tough to get diaper donations, Friedel said.
Stores, for example, will donate food because if not sold by its expiration date, it would have to be thrown out, Friedel said. But diapers have no expiration date, meaning they are not a normal donation from stores, he said.
Also adding to the difficulty in getting diapers donated is it is not a product someone can donate after using, Friedel said.
The Dream Center – which also provides a soup kitchen, clothing giveaway, after-school program, classes and preparation for a high school equivalency diploma – has a rare pantry just for diapers and other baby products.
The Center began distributing diapers in February 2013.
“We found the need,” Friedel said. “Our philosophy is to find a need and fill it.”
The Dream Center has run out of diapers, resulting in it going out and buying diapers for a client, Friedel said. On a recent day, the diaper room was only half-full.
While the Dream Center normally serves people from Long Branch to Bradley Beach, the diaper outreach goes farther, because it is the rare place the needy can go to for diapers.
But, because diapers are a valuable commodity that could be sold by those who do not need them, the Dream Center wants clients to have a referral from such places as hospital maternity wards or non-profit groups, Friedel said.
“People were very happy to participate (in the Diaper Drive),” Ashcroft said. “I’m hoping this will be an ongoing thing.
In “the talking stage now” are plans for a year-round collection of diapers and other baby products, Ashcroft said.
“I felt wonderful,” Ashcroft said. “I like to have a project. I want to continue my connection to it.”
Ashcroft praised the work of the Dream Center, her first time working with it, while Friedel praised Pagano and UVA.
“Anthony Pagano, it really touched his heart,” Friedel said.
Helping the diaper donation was UVA’s providing appetizers to donators.
“The food, amazing,” Friedel said.
The Dream Center will accept diaper donations at its site on Sewall Avenue, just off Grand Avenue. However, donators should first contact the Dream Center — telephone 877-391-5732, email email@example.com.
Monetary donations may be mailed to the Dream Center at P.O. Box 94, Belmar, 07719.