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From the bottom, up | Bellevue non-profit providing diapers to families in need
As the holiday season approaches, there are no shortage of drives, fundraisers, collections and other endeavors to make sure both children and parents can celebrate even in the face of hard financial times.
For Bellevue's Therese Andersen and Kim Stone, the mission is even more basic and is one that applies year-round: provide diapers for babies in need.
In 1992, Jean Ann Lynch founded a non-profit called Baby Basics to do just that. The organization currently has chapters across the country and after serving on the board of an affiliate agency while she lived in Michigan, Andersen wanted to bring the program to Bellevue. Stone said finding a niche in the non-profit world was a challenge that actually ended up connecting the women with many of the groups they coordinate with still.
"We wanted to talk to other agencies to find out if there was a need," Stone said. "Everyone we talked to said there definitely was."
After beginning with three babies and a garage-turned-warehouse for diaper storage only a few months ago, Baby Basics now provides diapers for six babies twice per month, with 11 more on a waiting list. First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue offered a room in their facility along with a phone line to hold distributions, which also serve as a gathering place for the clients to learn about other agencies and services that are available.
"We're really trying to help people that are trying to help themselves," Andersen said. "These families are really trying to make it work and sometimes the system doesn't help them."
Baby Basics is focused on helping the "working poor" in Bellevue, those with jobs who are not receiving state cash assistance. Andersen and Stone said with more than 20 percent of students in the Bellevue School District now qualifying for free or reduced lunch and the lack of a reliable and sustainable option for free diapers, the need was more apparent than ever.
"Every week we get another application," Andersen said. "The wait list was four, then seven, then 11. I don't like having a wait list."
While additional volunteers to serve as buyers and help with distributions are always welcome, Andersen and Stone said the most pressing need for Baby Basics Bellevue currently is consistent donations.
The two estimate a cost of roughly $1,800 for the three years a baby wears diapers and families are accepted into the program after the entire donation has been secured to avoid leaving families with another unexpected cost should intake slow. 100 percent of the donations goes toward buying diapers.
"To know they can count on that, it means a lot," Andersen said.
Along with standard cash and diaper donations, Baby Basics has worked with Boy Scout Troop 520 on a diaper drive and both Anderson and Stone said they would be open to new ways of collecting donations. Their own dedication to the project has spread throughout their families and become a hands-on lesson in giving.
"It takes a lot of time to get something started," Stone said. "But my family understands and they are a part of the Baby Basics volunteer community.”
To volunteer with Baby Basics Bellevue, make a donation, or find out more about receiving assistance, contact Therese Anderson or Kim Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 425-454-3084 ext. 3205.
Kim Stone and her son prepare donations at a distribution. COURTESY PHOTO
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