ForwardCT conducting drive for diapers, feminine hygiene products
By Ted Glanzer
The grassroots organization ForwardCT is conducting a diaper and feminine hygiene drive through the month of February.
The group, which was established after the 2016 election by Avon residents Carrie Firestone and Eleni Kavros DeGraw, is composed of volunteers from the Greater Hartford area and partners with local nonprofits and schools in tackling various projects based on need.
The organization has four pillars: connect, inform, serve, lead.
For example, following Hurricane Maria in 2017, the Greater Hartford area saw an influx of Puerto Rican families. ForwardCT’s volunteers collected and distributed furniture to the apartments where those families had relocated in and around Hartford.
This year, during the group’s holiday drive, Firestone said there were repeated requests for diapers and feminine hygiene products. So ForwardCT has put out the call for the following products: diapers (any size, including pull-ups and adult diapers), wipes, and feminine hygiene products (any kind).
People can drop off those products at any of the following locations in the Farmington Valley: 36 Cambridge Crossing, Avon, 06001 (use this address if you are sending via Amazon); 14 Thatcher Terrace, Farmington; 191 Reverknolls, Avon; 8 Cricket Lane, Simsbury; 363 Mountainside West, Farmington; 2 Old Barge Road, Simsbury; 39 Kingsbridge, Avon; 22 Basswood Road, Farmington; 12 Riverside Road, Simsbury
Anyone with questions may contact Firestone at 860-539-7123.
“What happened during holiday season, families were asking for pull-ups for children, some of which had kids with autism,” Firestone said. “Families were asking for pull ups as their wish gifts - they were asking for blankets and sheets for wish gifts.”
Diapers, Firestone said, are expensive and are needed every day. She said there are families that take a soiled diaper, wipe it out as best they can, and reuse it.
Similarly, feminine hygiene products are absolute necessities, but can be expensive. Firestone said she’s hate to have a girl miss a week of school because she didn’t have the necessary feminine hygiene products because of a basic biological function.
“I know families that have no money – they get food from Foodshare – but they don’t have access to an extra $20 a month for feminine hygiene. These are things in society that hold us back.”
The collection is through Feb. 28 and will be distributed through nonprofit partners and schools, Firestone said.
“We are currently discussing the possibility of establishing diaper banks at a school and a nonprofit thrift shop (if we collect enough),” she wrote in a statement. “We will also drop items on doorsteps of people our contacts identify. (Many families are in sensitive situations and we will respect confidentiality).
“Our work requires much flexibility, willingness to understand crises are fluid, and trust in our donors and service network.”
The diaper drive is but one of dozens of projects and collections the group has done in the past four years. The needs never go away, and sometimes can be crushing, not unlike trying to drink from a firehose.
But Firestone doesn’t despair, instead choosing to break down the needs into digestible bites that volunteers can help.
“Some people get paralyzed because there’s too much need,” she said. “We break it into projects so we make it doable for everybody. I have recipients who say ‘I want to help too.’ That’s heartbreaking. Here you have nothing and you want to help, too, and that says something. … My hope is that people will donate generously to people’s doorsteps and these items will go to where they’re needed most. That’s our forward commitment.”
For more information on ForwardCT, contact Firestone or visit facebook.com/forwardconnecticut.