The average baby goes through 8,000 disposable diapers—at approximately 40 cents each—before potty training at about 21 months old, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
So how does a family at or below the poverty level budget for an additional $3200 during a pandemic with people hoarding paper goods?
Currently, the need for diapers is second only to food at Love, in the Name of Christ South Bay. The Christian-based call center based in San Pedro helps families in need connecting them to other agencies, church ministries and other caring individuals.
Director Cecilia Montijo said the office is also getting calls every day for wipes, children’s clothing and other baby items.
“We’ve recently been helping seniors, and were able to serve more than 50 people in a local retirement facility,” Montijo said in between deliveries. “But we’re getting low on everything and financial assistance isn’t in sight right now.”
Further, since Montijo wants to protect her volunteers from the coronavirus risk, she said she has been delivering what food and supplies they have to families herself. She calls ahead, then leaves the provisions at the doorstep.
Some of the other ministries associated with Love INC SB include shopping for the homebound, tutoring children and adults, yard work for the disabled, housing for unwed mothers, emergency food deliveries, counseling and so much more.
But Love INC SB needs help from the community to be able to help others.
Montijo said not only does Love INC SB work to ensure physical needs are met, but the agency also helps with emotional and spiritual needs. No one is turned away, even if all the volunteers have to offer is another help line.
The website explains how the organization screens, verifies and validates need which sometimes reveals underlying causes such as abuse and neglect. Most recipients live at or below the poverty level with a household income of $3,000/month or less, Montijo said.
Young mother Jazmine Fletcher and her family have been struggling with groceries and diapers since the pandemic started. The San Pedro resident is not working and her husband is on limited hours. It’s a hardship to go from store to store or stand in long lines, and the rent is due.
“This is the first time I’ve ever reached out for help,” said Fletcher who shares extra goods she has received with her apartment neighbors and fellow church members. “I called 211 who left me a list of places which led me to Cecilia at Love, INC. Cecilia called me right back the first day. She’s been a blessing to me and my family.”
Additionally, Montijo has been checking on the Fletcher family every other day, making sure they have food, baby necessities, toiletries, plus she finds people for Fletcher who are donating precious diapers.
But like many during this pandemic, the phone ministry’s pantries and donation coffers have been stretched to the limit, so every donation, like a package of diapers, is extremely important at this time.
To add fuel to the fire storm, Love INC’s major April fundraiser has been canceled.
Board member and treasurer, Carey O’Bryan, said he recently spent hours trying to see where the organization could cut corners. Canceling the fundraiser incurred further expenses, but the organization is trying to be good stewards while still trying to meet needs in the community.
“Love INC is having to reconsider options to reduce expenses, but still get the word out for donations,” said O’Bryan, a Torrance resident and retired aerospace engineer. “We’ve been trying to apply for the federal loan for the protection plan for the three employees on the payroll. It’s been a bureaucratic problem, but all the money has been subscribed.”
Right now, O’Bryan added, there are more people than ever asking for assistance.
Montijo agreed, and said Love INC is at the point of operating on shoestring budget.
“We don’t get a lot of diaper donations, but when we do get a case, there’s only about 24 or 25 in a package, not 60,” Montijo said. “If someone gives us 24 diapers and we have three moms who need diapers, we give them eight each. Otherwise they would have none. We’ll keep going like this as long as we can until the crisis is over.”
Want to Donate?
Needed: Cereal, rice, pasta, canned goods, bread products, milk, baby formula, baby wipes, diapers, clothes, gift cards, cash donations, or ask about the greatest needs.
Call: Cecilia Montijo at: 310-831-5683 or visit loveincsb.org.