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I went to this weird little warehouse in Chicago to interview a former baseball player. We talked about diapers.

There are a lot of questions I'd like to ask former Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross: What was it like hitting a home run in the decisive Game 7 of the 2016 World Series? Can you tell me about the times you got called on to pitch during the 2015 season? Or what's harder: spring training or "Dancing With the Stars"?

None of that came up when I was given the opportunity to interview him at Cradles to Crayons in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Instead, we talked about a problem that Ross, like many Americans, didn't know about until recently: diaper need.


Ross at the Cradles to Crayons event in Chicago on April 5, 2018. Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Huggies.

1 in 3 families with newborns struggle to afford diapers, and it takes a toll on their mental and physical health.

Millions of low-income families simply don't have the money to pay for the diapers they need to keep their babies happy, healthy, and clean. Unfortunately, there aren't any government assistance programs to help them out either because food stamps can't be used to pay for diapers. That can make babies and parents sick.

"In research that we did with Yale, what was fascinating was that diaper need was more highly correlated with maternal stress than any material deficit," National Diaper Bank Network CEO Joanne Goldblum tells me at the event. "Not being able to meet your child's basic needs is incredibly stressful."

Joanne Goldblum of the National Diaper Bank Network at Cradles to Crayons in Chicago on April 5, 2018. Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Huggies.

At its core, the diaper need problem is about poverty, and while there are about 250 diaper banks in the U.S., they need help.

At Cradles to Crayons, Ross appeared alongside representatives from Walgreens and Huggies to donate 250,000 diapers and $10,000 to the National Diaper Bank Network. Walgreens and Huggies will donate up to 1.5 million diapers to the National Diaper Bank Network — one day's worth for every package of Huggies purchased in-store through April 29.

"It actually gave me a little bit of a sick feeling in my stomach, and I felt like I had to jump on the opportunity to be able to help out," Ross says, explaining his shock when approached by Huggies and Walgreens for the promotion.

Ross meeting with families at Cradles to Crayons in Chicago on April 5, 2018. Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Huggies.

In 2015, Ross found himself in a vulnerable state when his wife was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section.

For Ross, there is a personal component to the issue as well. In 2015, his wife, Hyla, gave birth to their daughter, Harper, two months premature. While both Hyla, a pediatric nurse by trade, and Harper are now perfectly healthy, the experience left Ross with a profound new appreciation for family as well as the kindness of others.

During those first few weeks, his Cubs teammates chipped in to send Ross and his family food and made check-in calls to the catcher. They helped take care of the little things that often go overlooked or can become mounting issues if ignored. It was a family-first approach to kindness, and Ross is paying it forward in this and his other charitable work. The families facing diaper needs are in a fragile place — something he knows a lot about.

Ross hitting a home run for the Cubs during the sixth inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

"My life was really good, and then all of a sudden, all that mattered to me was helping my child," he said, thinking back on that experience. "Perspective comes along really fast, so you give back when you can. And I was fortunate enough to be able to afford anything that would happen. That's not the case for 90% of people."

Luckily, you don't need to be a pro athlete to help fight diaper need. There's actually a lot you can do.

"A lot of people don't know this is an issue, and honestly that's part of the reason that I started doing this work," Goldblum says. "Because when we think about societal problems, we think about big things. We don't think about what it takes to get out of the house in the morning: diapers, deodorant, soap, shampoo. Nobody thinks about that stuff."

While reusable cloth diapers are a solution for some families, they're not an option for everyone, especially low-income families without access to a washing machine at home.

Volunteers from Walgreens and Huggies at Cradles to Crayons in Chicago. Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Huggies.

One of the most important things people can do is be vocal about this issue. Many people who are experiencing diaper needs may feel ashamed to speak out, making it that much more important for the rest of us to lend our voices to the cause. Social media is a great way to get the word out. Aside from that, people can host diaper drives, volunteer at their local diaper bank, or donate directly to the National Diaper Bank Network.

Together, we can help solve one of the bigger problems affecting our littlest people.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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