Westside Baby Programs
We pass along, free of charge, gently used clothes and equipment like car seats, highchairs, strollers and cribs to contribute to the health and safety of local children. We distribute new disposable diapers through purchases and donation collections. As diapers are not covered by other government programs, we fill an enormous gap for babies in our neighborhoods. This support allows the trained professionals to focus on supporting families by helping them deal with complicated issues such as homelessness, domestic violence or other factors of poverty. We work toward a day when children have their basic needs met through enough diapers, clothing and equipment to keep them healthy, safe and happy. In particular, we dream of the day when diapers are considered as necessary as food.
WestSide Baby accepts donations of gently used clothing and shoes, sizes newborn to 12. Volunteers inspect and sort every item we receive and then pack it again to fill an order placed by a social service provider who has assessed the needs of each child in a family. We also place a book and toy in every clothing bag to support literacy and healthy brain development for each child. We distribute over 800 clothing bags each month.
Diapers cost an average of 23 cents each, which can take $70 to $100 from the family budget of vulnerable families who must then choose between diapers and food or gas for their cars. WestSide Baby provides 20 diapers per month, about a 5 day supply, to nearly 800 babies and toddlers. Babies who are diaper deprived, suffer from diaper rash and cry more, sleep less and negatively impact already stressed families. The risk of child abuse rises with every overused diaper. We doubled our distribution to 40 diapers/month in 2010 but the need is greater. More than 150,000 diapers are donated yearly from children and adults in our community and a diaper manufacturer is helping with some donations. The need is so great; it requires many partners.
Car Seat Reuse & Recycling
WestSide Baby accepts used car seats and processes them strigently before passing them back into the community to be used by families with few other car seat options. While we distribute approximately 25 seats each month, that is only 20% of our requests. Retailing between $45 and $600, car seats seem like a luxury when compared to rent and food. However, car crashes are the #1 accidental killer of children in King County. Improperly or unrestrained babies and children are much more likely to be seriously injured in any kind of car accident than those who are in proper seats. We hope one day to reinstate our monthly car seat purchase program while simultaneously increasing our capacity to pass along safe used car seats to keep them in circulation and out of landfills as long as possible. In addition, unusable car seats cannot be easily recycled in King County. We are initiating a program to recycle the discarded seats to keep them out of landfills.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In February 2010, we hosted a sold-out benefit Tea with 450 guests that raised $100,000. This 35% increase in Tea gifts over 2009 coupled with a first ever large diaper donation from Kimberly Clark allowed us to immediately double our monthly diaper distribution to families from 20 to 40 per month.
Because of continually increasing demand and an unmet community need, WestSide Baby is leasing an adjacent warehouse into a new operations center. WestSide Baby has increased the number of children served by 53% in the last two years yet remained in the same 1600 sq. ft building. The new operations center will allow for more efficient storage and order fulfillment processes. We will reach more children with increased bulk purchasing power and the ability to accept large product donations.