‘Tis the season

You can’t save the world, but you can help make it slightly more tolerable sometimes. Like this:

Most people don’t think about poor people and their kids’ diapers. Most of us don’t realize that paying for diapers is a huge problem for families who don’t have a lot of money.

Joanne Samuel Goldblum noticed it. As a social worker in New Haven, she frequently observed parents who were unable to afford diapers at the end of the month, after their government assistance funds ran out.

What happens when you can’t afford diapers for your kid? Diaper rash. Incessant crying. And, sometimes, child abuse when the parents can’t take the crying anymore.

More commonly, the result of a diaper shortage is shame and embarrassment.

Two years ago, Goldblum put her thoughts and desire into action.

“After five years of hearing me talk about it, my husband (David Goldblum) got tired of listening to me and he said, ‘There’s got to be a way to do this,’” she recalled.

“It seemed a small enough and easy enough thing to do,” she said.

But when I asked Goldblum if this is small or easy, she replied, “No! It’s not!”

Nevertheless, the New Haven Diaper Bank is up and running. Although it’s a great success, distributing 50,000 to 60,000 diapers every month to about 500 people, there are only two other diaper banks in the country. New Haven’s is a national model, begging to be imitated.

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Goldblum is fed up with comments such as, “Let them use newspaper” or “Why can’t they use cloth diapers?”

Her answer to the first suggestion: “It’s not fair. It’s embarrassing and not up to hygenic standards.”

Her answer to the second: “Families in poverty don’t have easy access to washing machines.”

Goldblum’s goal is to distribute one million diapers per year through the 30 New Haven social service agencies she has lined up. But it costs $7,500 per month to keep this going. Funding comes through grants, foundations and private donations.

Contributions, cash or checks, can be sent to: The New Haven Diaper Bank, 1440 Whalley Ave., No. 110, New Haven, CT 06515. For information: 843-5372.