My Photo: Diaper Collection for The Maker's Place. Read on to Learn More!
Back in December, my church did a diaper drive for The Maker’s Place in Trenton, NJ (the early December results are pictured above). I know you're thinking, "what the what? Why is she talking about diapers?" Picking up diapers for a new drive gave me the idea for the blog that will follow on Friday. But first let me give you some background on the location, name, and mission of The Maker’s Place.
The name in part comes from a bridge across the Delaware River. According to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, “The Lower Trenton Toll Supported Bridge, also known as the ‘Trenton Makes The World Takes Bridge,’ carries Bridge Street traffic from Trenton, New Jersey to Morrisville, Pennsylvania, one of three bridges connecting these two communities. The original Lower Trenton Bridge was the first bridge to span the Delaware River and opened to traffic on January 30, 1806. It was located on the same site as now occupied by the present structure….The downriver truss displays the ‘Trenton Makes The World Takes’ sign which is mounted to the truss members; hence the nickname for the bridge. The original sign was erected in 1935 and replaced in 1981.” – Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. (Destination Trenton)
Image from commons.wikimedia.org
Trenton once was a thriving hub of industry. But times have changed and, although it is the seat of New Jersey's government, the city is struggling. Into this environment the Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church has started a new initiative. (STOP: Again, allow me to clarify that all United Methodists do not hate or fear the LGBTQIA community, not all of them see them as "incompatible with scripture," nor do we want to deny them the right of ordination and the ability to be married by a UMC pastor in a UMC church. Just to remind you.)
Anyway, the name "The Maker’s Place" has two points of reference: 1) “the Maker” (i.e. the Creator, God); but 2) as it located in Trenton, it also plays with the Lower Bridge sign and hopes to “create a place where all people are empowered to be makers, and where all people experience the abundant life of God the Maker” (The Maker’s Place).
Of itself, the church says, “The Maker's Place is a new initiative of the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey. The goal is to connect neighbors in Trenton with neighbors from central New Jersey, by opening a new neighborhood resource center that empowers poor and marginalized people in our capital city. Starting with initiatives centered around food and families, and in partnership with four United Methodist churches in Trenton, we'll cultivate transformative relationships and help people build bridges out of poverty” (The Maker’s Place).
When the initiative kicked off, we were asked to donate diapers to The Maker’s Place. Why diapers, you ask? Well, as we all know, babies are not toilet trained. For centuries, humans have swathed their infants' little bottoms in some kind of protective cloth. These days, we use disposable diapers. And this presents a problem for people who live in poverty. Disposable diapers are expensive, and babies go through a lot of them! Even if parents use cloth diapers, they need to purchase the cloth or the material, and then if they don’t have a washer/dryer in the home, they must find the time and the money to hit the laundromat - and frequently. Thus, it is tempting for a parent to leave diapers on longer than is healthy. This is the world of poverty. People are forced to make difficult economic choices all the time – i.e., “do I buy more diapers or use that money to buy groceries or medicine?”
My congregation collected disposable diapers back in December, and we are doing it again.
Okay. Fine. We’re nice people at First UMC. We want babies to have dry, clean bottoms and be healthy and happy. But the act of purchasing diapers taught me something. You see, I’m a granny-age woman. I’ve never married nor have I ever had children. So, I float through life blissfully ignorant about purchasing diapers. Imagine my surprise when I made my first purchase and discovered that a modest box of diapers cost about $16. And I realized something. It's no wonder having an adequate amount of diapers on hand is a problem for people struggling with poverty. Those little things are expensive!
As I made my purchase on Tuesday, I suddenly found myself thinking about babies in the Saint Maggie series. how babies' needs were met bottom-wise in the 1860s, and what it took to keep a baby healthy.
On Friday, we will transition from the 21st century to the 1860s and look at how and why budding physician Lydia decides to try something new on her infant half-sister Faith's little backside.
In the meantime, if you can, perhaps you might take a little time and a little money, buy a package of diapers (or some cloth diapers), and donate them to a local food pantry. Thanks!
Destination Trenton: “Trenton Makes the World Takes Bridge
The Maker’s Place. https://www.makersplace.org/
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder