Oct. 14, 2020 | Miasha Lee
LONGMEADOW/SPRINGFIELD – St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Temple Beth-El in Springfield are partnering again for the Longmeadow Loves’ Donation Fall Drive. Throughout the month of October, they are collecting diapers, wipes and feminine products to benefit people in need.
“It’s a wonderful collaboration,” said Rev. Charlotte LaForest, Rector of St. Andrews. “This adds other women clergy recognizing the importance of these products for women and families in our community. People who can’t afford diapers for their children and people who don’t have access to period products like tampons and pads.”
Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz of Temple Beth-El added, “Basics are difficult for many to attain. I hope that our congregation’s participating in this effort we can ease the stress for many in this community who are struggling.”
St. Andrews first did the Longmeadow Loves Drive in May.
Parish Administrator Jennifer Greene explained, ”When everything shutdown in the spring…Federal programs don’t cover diapers, period products and continence supplies. With the shutdown, a lot of the nonprofits were focused on food and less on these kinds of products. That’s how the donation drive came about. It was a need that wasn’t being met. There’s still not a designated place to collect these personal need items.”
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, “No state or federal child safety-net program allocates dollars specifically for the purchase of diapers. Families often must choose between clean diapers, food or paying the electric bill. Many parents reuse soiled diapers which literally means dumping out solids, letting the diaper dry and putting it back on the child.”
LaForest reached out to all of the local churches and synagogues in town.
“There’s a very a strong interfaith clergy and faith community network in Longmeadow,” LaForest explained. “I shared the information about the Longmeadow Loves’ campaign with some of my interfaith clergy partners. Temple Beth-El and First Church of Christ in Longmeadow partnered with us in that first round. They distributed our media about the campaign and asked their members to donate and coordinate with our drive.”
All together the three faith communities collected over $26,000 individual items during the first round in May.
Because it was such a success, St. Andrews decided to do it again for the fall.
Unfortunately, First Church was unable to participate in the fall drive, but they will join St. Andrews again if they do future donation drives for Longmeadow Loves.
In the first round of the drive, LaForest said it happened at a time where we were watching the pandemic unfold and people saw the suffering and the need all around. Residents wanted to know what they could do to help.
“It is important for all of us to create a safety net for people in our area who need help,” Katz responded. “I like that the Temple Beth El and St Andrews can work together in important ways.”
St. Andrews is still exploring and discerning what this drive will look like in a long-term capacity – whether they’ll do isolated drives a year or establish more consistent relationships. For right now LaForest maintains they’re doing what they know to help and looking to see where God is leading for this to go in a longer term.
“Certainly, these needs do not only occur during the pandemic, but all of them are heightened by it,” answered LaForest. “It’s really a way for faith groups to be amplifiers of the good that individuals are hoping to do in the community.”
The supplies for the fall drive will be distributed throughout Western Massachusetts to the following organizations:
• Church Without Walls
• Behavioral Health Network Inc
• The Gray HouseSpringfield Family Support Program
• Way Finders
• Open Pantry (Springfield)
• Children’s Study Home Family
• Resource Center
• Hungry Hill Senior Center
• Springfield Family Resource Center
• St. Vincent DePaul
Those interested in donating may contact Rev. LaForest at 567-5901 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The donation bin will be at St. Andrew’s parking lot. There will be an information booth and collection site at the St. Andrew’s Annual Pumpkins and Pets on the Hill on Oct. 10. Residents can also support the project by shopping online where St. Andrews has a Target registry tgt.gifts/longmeadowloves.