One diaper at a time
“Make a change by giving a change” is the slogan that helped three seventh graders at St. Andrew Catholic School in Fort Worth collect and deliver 16,500 diapers to Catholic Charities Fort Worth. They exceeded their goal of 13,500 diapers and helped hundreds of infants and babies in needy families.
Ella Taylor, Mia Coffey, and Madeleine Schroder promoted the student-led diaper drive during daily announcements, at school assemblies, in the Wildcat Weekly school newsletter, and with posters placed throughout the campus. Taylor said many of the posters contained statistics such as the number of diapers a newborn uses daily or that 1 in 3 families struggle with diaper needs.
They also involved St. Andrew Parish with flyers in the bulletin and boxes in the narthex for diaper donations from parishioners.
“A lot of grandparents, aunts, and uncles also wanted to contribute even though they weren’t necessarily part of our church or school,” Taylor said.
Those unable to purchase diapers donated cash through the Venmo money transfer application. Taylor said donations totaled $1,050, which paid for three diaper bags, 400 extra diapers, 100 packages of baby wipes, and ten $50 Target gift cards.
The diaper drive was conceived four years ago by three other St. Andrew students, now freshmen at Nolan Catholic High School. As sixth graders, Josie Folzenlogen, Gigi Brownlow, and Avery Schmidt wanted to do something — on their own — to make a difference for people in poverty. Their desire became a diaper drive for Gabriel Project, a parish-based program that supports mothers experiencing crisis pregnancies.
“We felt God calling us to help people in our local community,” Folzenlogen said.
“So, we went to Catholic Charities looking for ways to help,” Schmidt explained, “and they introduced us to Gabriel Project.”
Though the school has many teacher-sponsored service opportunities, the three student leaders thought a student-driven service project could create greater involvement and passion for the project. Their instincts were correct.
The first diaper drive exceeded its goal of 3,000 diapers with a total of 5,500. Each year, the girls increased the goal, and then exceeded it.
“Year after year, [the drive] collected more and more diapers and it keeps growing,” Taylor recounted. Today, the project collects enough diapers to also reach families beyond Gabriel Project.
Kasey Whitley, director of CCFW parish social ministry, said “though Gabriel Project is the primary beneficiary, any new or expectant parent in any program at Catholic Charities will benefit.”
Whitley, a St. Andrew parent, said she also witnessed the impact of the diaper drive on the students who became engaged and excited about a corporal work of mercy.
“We all grew in our faith and grew closer together … because of how many people became involved and worked to help us,” Taylor said.