Simplified: Students at Sonia Sotomayor Elementary last month held a diaper drive to bring in donations for The Teddy Bear Den, a nonprofit that helps low-income mothers access supplies for their babies. The goal? 5,000 diapers donated. The actual result? More than 33,000 diapers.

Why it matters

  • The Teddy Bear Den helps hundreds of low-income families each year by providing a way for them to get much-needed items like clothing and diapers using a point system rather than money. For example, a mom who goes to her prenatal doctor visits will earn points at each visit that she can then exchange for diapers or other baby necessities.
  • Sandy Lown, who's been the executive director of the nonprofit since its founding in 1996, said she was asked to speak to the elementary school's student council in December. The students then decided to do a diaper drive as part of the school's Kindness Month in February, Principal Tracy Vik said.
  • Each month, the nonprofit goes through about 5,000 diapers. That means with the donation from Sonia Sotomayor Elementary, the Teddy Bear Den will have a more than six-month supply of diapers on-hand. That'll mean a savings of close to $25,000 in the nonprofit's budget this year, Lown said.
"It was a complete shock to me," she added.

Tell me more about the Teddy Bear Den

The Teddy Bear Den currently helps about 1,500 people.

  • Parents are often referred by either health care providers or by WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children.
  • The vast majority of people served by the nonprofit are also receiving at least some sort of assistance (SNAP benefits, Medicaid, etc.), but Lown said they do make exceptions for folks who may just barely miss the income requirements to receive help from those programs.
"Our whole thing is, if we have it, it's our job to share it," Lown said, noting that she'll sometimes have people show up who just need diapers, and she's happy to help.

Once a parent is enrolled in the Teddy Bear Den's system, they can earn points every time they make healthy choices for themselves or their babies.

  • Parents get points for taking their babies to doctor checkups, for continuing their own education, for staying sober, etc.

On average, a parent in the program will earn around 4,000 points that can be redeemed for baby gear.

  • A one-piece outfit, for example, is about 150 points. Diapers range from about 250 to 600 points, depending on how large the package is.

How can I help?

The Teddy Bear Den is always looking for volunteers, partnerships with businesses and, of course, donations. You can learn more, donate and reach out here.

"We just so appreciate all of the things people do to keep us open and give us the ability to serve," Lown said.