April 15, 2015 - AWS Diaper Drive for the Amherst Survival Center by Ashlyn Heller
Did you know that the average family spends about $60 a month on diapers alone? That’s close to $1,000 a year! Not to mention, the numerous other costs babies add to a family’s expenses including formula, clothing, and childcare. For many struggling to make ends meet while raising a child, diapers pose a major financial challenge.
The Amherst Survival Center recognizes this challenge and asked for our team’s help in aiding local Amherst families with this everyday crisis. In response, we took the opportunity to kick off the first ever Amherst Women’s Soccer Diaper Drive benefitting the Amherst Survival Center. We decided that the best way to conduct the drive would be in four phases. And what a success it’s been so far!
Phase one: online fundraising. Not knowing quite what to expect, we set up a website where friends and family could donate money to help our cause. Within a week, we had raised over a thousand dollars just from our incredible AWS extended family! This amazing accomplishment speaks to the tight-knit community that is Amherst Women’s Soccer.
Phase two: “tabling” at the local Walmart in Hadley, Mass in an effort to further engage with our local community. We set up tables and chairs outside of the entranceway to Walmart on a beautiful Sunday with posters designed by our very own Alex Sotak ’18E. People passing by could either donate money to the cause or purchase diapers from inside the store. The support from the community was incredible. The majority of people were excited about our cause and thrilled to help. We had a great time meeting members of the community that we would not otherwise have had the chance to meet and sharing our mission with them.
Phase three (and by far the most fun): “tabling” in Valentine Hall. In order to get the student body involved, we set up the same tables and posters at the entrance to the cafeteria. On the tables we placed embarrassing baby pictures of our current team members paired next to current roster pictures and asked students to donate to their favorite baby/roster picture combo. The student body thought it was hysterical and could not get enough of our chubby cheeks and bald heads! More importantly, however, we raised more money towards our cause.
Phase four: purchasing and delivering diapers to the Amherst Survival Center/ Big Y donation. While we have not yet reached phase four, we are beyond excited to see our goals come to fruition. In addition to our fundraising, the Big Y of Amherst has agreed to make an additional donation towards our cause when we have completed the drive. We cannot wait to deliver the diapers to the Survival Center and feel the satisfaction and gratification of helping the families in the Amherst community.
Officially, the spring semester at Amherst is known as the “off-season” for the Amherst Women’s Soccer team. However, while we may hang up our game boots for the semester, the spring is anything but “off” time for us. With a less rigid soccer schedule, the team likes to use our extra free time to kick (pun intended) our community engagement efforts in to high gear.
After extensive deliberation and planning, the team decided that the most valuable and impactful way to give back to the Amherst community would be to form a long-lasting relationship with a local organization. The value in this being that we would be able to truly get to know the people we are working with and they would be able to truly get to know us and what Amherst Women’s Soccer stands for.
So, with Sarah Frohman ’17 leading the charge as team ATEL (Athletics Team Engagement Leader), we decided to get involved with the Amherst Survival Center. The Survival Center has been helping people in the Amherst community since 1976 meet their basic needs when they cannot make ends meet. The ASC provides everything from hot meals to material resources to companionship. This last piece – companionship– is where the Amherst Women’s Soccer team saw an opportunity to get involved and make an impact. Each week, a group of teammates heads over to the Survival Center to eat a meal with members of the Amherst community who have sought help at the ASC that day. We talk, we learn about each others’ pasts, we tell stories, we discover common interests, and we always share endless laughs.
A highlight from this past week was from our Thursday night dinner at the ASC. Sophomore Alex Sotak was lucky enough to sit down next to a woman named Shelley who shared her incredible life story over dinner. Shelley attended Smith College for two years, but left when she became seriously ill. After many difficult years, she was finally diagnosed and treated. Shelley struggled immensely, but through it all, made a commitment to herself to return to school. She stayed true to this commitment and excitedly told Alex that she is currently at Mount Holyoke Community College to earn her veterinary degree! By the end of the story, the entire AWS crew was listening and on the ride back to campus we could not stop talking about how inspiring her story was.
We can’t wait to continue our efforts at the Survival Center after spring break. In addition to weekly meals, the team also has plans to run a diaper drive benefitting the ASC in hopes of further cultivating our relationship. Our resident baby expert (and head coach), Jen Hughes, suggested a diaper drive as she knows first hand just how costly diapers are with 10 month old baby Elliot at home! Stay tuned to hear more about the drive as well as our other endeavors in the community this semester.