More than 2,000 disposable diapers are headed to the Family Nurturing Center in Medford, thanks to an Ashland teen who made it her mission to help out the babies and toddlers of struggling parents.
Carson Barry, 13, an eighth-grader at the Siskiyou School, said she collected the much-needed diapers for her graduation project at the Waldorf school.
Forced to choose between food or diapers, some parents leave their children in the same dirty diaper for hours or even days. The child's stress and the parents' desperation can lead to abuse and neglect.
You can help
Donate disposable diapers to the Family Nurturing Center, a respite nursery for families in crisis. Call 541-779-5242. The center will disburse diapers
to other agencies in need.
For the past two months, Barry has put out collection baskets at her school and at the music studio where she studies guitar. She also "made a few calls and went door-to-door," Barry said, adding she used the money she collected to purchase more diapers. Her project brought in 2,335 diapers.
Barry's efforts will provide a much-needed resource for parents. The respite nursery provides therapeutic care for more than 150 at-risk children who range in age from 6 weeks to 5 years. Approximately 75 percent of the children at the center still are in diapers, said Mary-Curtis Gramley, executive director.
"We are continually running out of diapers, particularly certain sizes," Gramley said.
Changing a child's diaper is an indication of care, love and nurturing, she said. Parents sing, laugh and tickle their children. All of this creates bonding between parent and child, she said.
But diapers often are one more weekly expense that can't be met.
Forced to choose between food and diapers, parents sometimes leave their children in the same dirty diaper for hours or even days. The child's stress and the parents' desperation can lead to abuse and neglect, Gramley said.
"Diapers are a very significant expense in a struggling family," Gramley said.
An unchanged diaper creates more than simple discomfort. A wet diaper can lead to painful rashes or other more serious health concerns, said Gramley. And the No. 1 trigger for child abuse is crying, she added.
"When you are young and you cry, whether you are hungry or you are wet, and the world is not there, it is very impactful. And very sad for these children," Gramley said. She added that ongoing neglect, often seen in children whose parents are using methamphetamine, can create lifelong challenges.
Gramley praised Barry, who visited the center, as a "gentle, kind and community-oriented young woman."
"She's a diligent soul, too," Gramley said. "She did this on her own."
Barry's mother, Jennifer Jones, agreed. Her daughter is "self-directed" and "independent," Jones said.
"We are really proud of her for choosing this project and giving back," Jones said. "She really connected with the (center)."
Barry said she came up with the idea of helping the Family Nurturing Center after hearing about the nursery, and then visiting.
"I went there one time," Barry said. "I just liked being with the kids and seeing what the center is like."
There are now enough diapers to keep bottoms dry at the Family Nurturing Center for a while. Gramley plans to share her bounty with other organizations, such as the Maslow Project, Healthy Start and OnTrack, which also care for babies and toddlers in need.