LONGMEADOW — Sometimes women have to choose between diapers for their babies or tampons for themselves. Sometimes those items are sacrificed to pay the rent or electric bill.
“Given the shut-down of many non-profits and take-away centers during this COVID-19 pandemic, food banks are allocating their available space for food items. This means that families may have to choose between food, paying their electric bill, or buying personal care products like diapers,” said the Rev. Charlotte H. LaForest, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Longmeadow. “An inadequate supply of these items can lead to health issues.”
So when a concern was raised about the need for diapers, feminine products, and incontinence supplies, LaForest and church members formed Longmeadow Loves, a supply drive throughout the month of May.
St. Andrew’s and interfaith partners First Church in Longmeadow and Temple Beth El in Springfield are collecting donations of diapers, wipes, pull-ups, tampons, pads and adult incontinence products. Drop-off bins are at St. Andrew’s, 335 Longmeadow St., at the office door in the rear parking lot.
For those who are not able to purchase products in stores but would still like to help, a gift registry of needed products has been set up with Target and can be accessed at tgt.gifts/longmeadowloves. Items purchased through this registry will ship directly to St. Andrew’s.
The drive will last through May, then donations will be dispersed to Church Without Walls, Behavioral Health Network Inc., The Gray House, Open Pantry, Springfield Family Resource Center and Way Finders.
“The need for these products is constant, but they are not covered under federal assistance programs such as WIC, SNAP or Medicaid,” LaForest said. “Given the shut-down of many non-profits and take-away centers during this COVID pandemic, food banks are allocating their available space for food items. Many local food pantries will distribute these kinds of supplies, but they’re not getting the donations right now.”
With current economic challenges, families and individuals can find themselves facing the choice whether to buy diapers, period products or incontinence supplies or afford rent or groceries. Longmeadow Loves “felt like something very concrete and very specific we could do to help right now,” the rector said.
In this time of pandemic, many people are looking for ways to help others. “We have people in the community donating to food banks and making masks, but as Christians seeking to follow the example of Jesus, we don’t just stop when that box is checked and we’ve done something; we are always looking to see what God is calling us to do next,” she said. “We named the campaign ‘Longmeadow Loves’ because that’s what this is about — showing through our actions that our neighbors are seen and loved.”
According to materials provided by Longmeadow Loves, as many as 30 percent of adults experience some degree of incontinence, with the rate rising to almost 50 percent for those above the age of 70. Nearly 12 million women in the United States between the ages of 12 and 52 live below the poverty line, and most of them don’t have access to sanitary pads.
In addition, LaForest noted, 1 in 3 American families reports experiencing diaper need, and disposable diapers can cost $70 to $80 per month per baby.
For more information on Longmeadow Loves, email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at the church, 413-567-5901.
Send checks to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church with Longmeadow Loves in the memo line, 335 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, MA 01106.