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Organizations sought for diaper drive

Wanted: 1 million diapers.

So local organizations and businesses are being sought to help end what could be a smelly problem — a big need for diapers.

There may be more than 600 children in Fremont alone, living in households that can’t provide an adequate number of diapers.

On average, disposable diapers cost about $150 a month, which means families may be forgoing money to pay bills and buy groceries, said Carie Schmidt, Sixpence coordinator.

Many daycares will only accept disposable diapers, so families can be missing out on work and school because they don’t have enough diapers to send with their little ones.

With such things in mind, an effort is being launched to help get families the diapers they need.

The project is called: “52 Weeks of Diapers — Helping Little Behinds Get a Little Ahead.”

With this program, churches, clubs, schools and community organizations are asked to adopt one week during 2019 to host their own diaper drive, said Nan Cunningham, a Kiwanis Club of Fremont member.

Each organization that signs up can create a drive that could involve competitions between local banks, classes within the school system, real estate or other companies or even departments of the same business.

At the end of the week, diapers will be moved to a central diaper bank location.

The diaper drive was launched Nov. 30 during a community baby shower hosted by the Good Neighbor Community Health Center and Lutheran Family Services. A total of 1,383 diapers was collected.

“We’ve also had our first two organizations in town volunteer to host an internal diaper drive of their own to support the cause and that was Methodist Fremont Health and the Dodge County Courthouse,” Schmidt said.

A total of 5,043 diapers with $286 in monetary donations was collected from the hospital and 1,145 diapers and $30 in donations from the courthouse.

Businesses and other entities interested in adopting a week may contact Schmidt at carie.schmidt@fpsmail.org.

Diapers now can be accessed by families from Fremont and the surrounding area.

This is open to any family experiencing a need for diapers. There are no income guidelines. Those needing diapers may call 402-727-3021.

Schmidt remembers the first time she learned about a great need for diapers in Fremont.

That day, Schmidt, the Sixpence coordinator, got a call from a partnering agency about a grandmother, who unexpectedly gained custody of multiple grandchildren — three of whom were in diapers. Trying to provide diapers and wipes for them was adding to her stress.

Schmidt has seen other needs, like families going a day with one diaper left before payday rolls around so they can buy the next pack.

Cunningham noted that these families are working hard to provide for all the needs of the children.

“This is a small way we can assist families who are doing the best they can,” Cunningham said. “This is another little help we can give them.”

Schmidt said national statistics indicate one of every three families struggle to provide their little ones with enough diapers for the month.

That would mean more than 600 children in Fremont don’t have the diapers they need, according to these statistics and Fremont’s population of children ages 0 to 5, published in the 2016 Community Well-Being Data Report by the Fremont Area United Way.

Schmidt said another alarming statistic indicates three out of five families struggling to have enough diapers are missing school or work because they don’t have enough to send with them to daycare.

Some may wonder why economically challenged families don’t opt for cloth diapers.

But Schmidt said it costs about $1,200 on average to get everything needed to start with cloth diapers.

Also, there is a trend with the area’s low-income families, who struggle with laundering.

“They don’t have a unit in their house to wash clothes or struggle with money to pay at the laundry mat or the transportation to get to the laundry mat, especially in the winter when they can’t walk,” Schmidt said.

Family members could potentially lose their employment because they can’t send their children to daycare without those diapers, Cunningham said.

Other factors can lead to the need for diapers, including an unexpected financial hardship or life event or family crisis.

Schmidt also noted that while other subsidized programs may provide formula and food, they don’t provide diapers.

Sixpence is a program within Fremont Public Schools that works with children ages 0 to 5, getting them ready for preschool and working on developmental milestones.

She said the Sixpence program frequently has received phone calls from community partners indicating families in need of diapers.

“After doing research about how to best serve the need, we decided a community diaper drive could be the way to support the community in that area,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt presented the plan at a local Fremont Kiwanis Club meeting.

Cunningham said Kiwanis clubs around the world have diaper drives.

“I don’t buy diapers anymore and when I went to purchase some for a baby shower, I was shocked that a box of diapers was around $27 to $30,” she said.

Based on national statistics and the Fremont population, more than 1 million diapers will be needed for the year.

The goal is to continue with diaper donations and to have a sustainable diaper bank that always has enough to provide to local families.

Cunningham noted that while there is great need, there also are many Fremonters reaching out to the community in many ways.

Because of that, Schmidt believes that while the goal is large, it will be met.

Cunningham agreed, adding: “We’re confident we will meet our goal of 1 million diapers.

“We will be collecting data to show what has been distributed to families through the year,” Cunningham said. “We are hoping to use that data at the end of the year to take a deeper look at how we might grow the efforts into the future so we can continue to serve the need.”

Organizations involved in the project will be: Fremont Area United Way, Good Neighbor Community Health Center, Sixpence program at Fremont Public Schools and Lutheran Family Services.


Courtesy Photo 

The exhibit, “Pattern and Purpose,” which features quilts as works of art, will be ending Sunday at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.


Tony Gray / Columbus Telegram 

The winner of the Fremont High vs. Columbus High boys basketball game gets possession of the F&C Trophy. 


Local
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National Blood Donor Month underway; plenty of opportunities to participate locally

With January serving as National Blood Donor Month—the American Red Cross is encouraging people throughout the country to help meet the urgent need for blood donations by resolving to give blood this month.

“It’s resolution season, and I know you’ve heard these all before--stop snacking and slacking--start reading and running—but what about resolving to give more life?” Samantha Pollard, Midwest communications manager at American Red Cross Blood Services, said.

According to Pollard, donating blood is a way to make a lifesaving impact in the new year for patients like Judy Janssen.

Janssen was diagnosed with end-stage autoimmune liver disease in 2016 and subsequently received frequent blood transfusions—sometimes multiple times a week—until she underwent a liver transplant last January.

“Blood donors make a really big difference with very little effort,” Janssen said in a released statement. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for blood donations.”

The critical role of blood and platelet donors has been celebrated each January for nearly 50 years during National Blood Donor Month, which coincides with one of the most difficult times to maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients according to the American Red Cross.

Busy holiday schedules, extreme winter weather and seasonal illnesses often impact donor turnout this time of year, Pollard says.

The Red Cross encourages eligible donors to resolve to give blood regularly, beginning in January. To encourage donations immediately, all those who donate by Jan. 6 will get a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

Appointments to donate blood can be made by downloading the free American Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-733-2767.

Those who are interested in doing more than just donating blood are also encouraged to host a Red Cross blood drive – more information about hosting a drive can be found online at RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.


Education
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Keene hosts variety of family events in January

Although the calendar year has changed, opportunities for area children and families to get involved and try their hands at something new are still in abundant supply at Keene Memorial Library throughout 2019.

After holding a variety of Digital Drop-In and upcycling events throughout 2018, Keene is picking up right where it left off with several similar events throughout the month of January and beyond.

The local library will host a Digital Drop-In event on Jan. 6 from 1-3:30 p.m. where staffers will offer one-on-one assistance for those hoping to increase their technological literacy.

“We were thinking that if they get a laptop or a tablet or an iPad for Christmas and they’re not quite sure of the features ... we can help you set it up or help you get it connected with your library account,” said Keene Memorial Library’s Elisa Cruz.

Three staff members will be devoted to helping out, and they’ll also be looking to help people learn how to use the library’s digital resources, set up emails and more.

Cruz is bilingual, so assistance will be available in both English and Spanish.

“I think a lot of people don’t know how to use the electronic books; If they’re interested in that, we can help with that,” she said. “And we have a lot of learning databases that are free with your library card.”

The library will have devices ready for use, and guests are invited to bring their own devices in as well.

Along with continuing to offer Digital Drop-In events, Keene will also continue offering periodical upcycling events where guests can use creativity to transform old and otherwise discarded items into something new.

After hosting several holiday-themed upcycling events in December, Keene is set to host another event on Jan. 11 from 3-5 p.m.

“People were having a lot of fun, so we said, well, let’s keep it going,” Cruz said.

For the upcycling event on Jan. 11, Keene will focus on using ink-stampers to create fun cards, fancy wrap or whatever guests can come up with during the event.

The upcycling events aim to teach people how to reuse items for newer, potentially better purposes.

“Instead of throwing it away, you can use it for another fun purpose,” Cruz said.

Other upcycling events have taught guests how to upcycle old tee-shirts, turn DVD cases into pencil holders, and create their own Christmas cards.

Both the Digital Drop-In and upcycling events are free and open to members of the public of all ages.

Keene also hosts weekly “Tween Tech Time” events on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. which allow kids to learn about and get hands-on experience with STEAM curriculum and products.

A variety of events throughout the month and year, geared towards both children and adults, can be found on Keene Memorial Library’s Facebook page.

For questions regarding library events contact Keene at 402-727-2694.