I’ll tell you in one word why I started cloth diapering my (now 9 year old) daughter.
We were broke. We were so broke we couldn’t afford to order diaper wraps or even the good prefolds online because that required a) money and b) a debit or credit card, which we didn’t have. I went to Walmart and bought 2 dozen Gerber prefolds, pins, and pull-up vinyl pants.
To say it was discouraging was putting it mildly, especially when I had to scrub the diapers by hand in our bathroom sink because we couldn’t afford the laundromat.
I was thrilled when I found a flea market that carried Gerber brand velcro covers – I scrimped and bought 4. After a while, word got around and I was gifted a few AIOs and pockets, and I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to use them. I tried my hand at sewing a few out of old clothes, a la FernandFaerie.com , but the wool soaker pants did not go well for us.
When my son was born, I became a single mother and had to go back to work full time. I cringe thinking of those days, trudging out the door with a fussy 3 year old and a newborn, taking them to daycare so I could earn a little money. I don’t remember many nights when I slept more than 4 hours!
I asked about cloth at the daycare, but I was told I would need either a full stash of AIOs or disposables. I nearly wept when I figured out that to buy AIOs for Catie (who was STILL potty training then) and Daniel, it would cost me about $800! I was still too broke for anything but a box of sposies every other week.
There went a good chunk of my hard-earned money every payday – I used the envelope system, and one envelope was labeled “Gas and Diapers”.
Fast forward to today. Daniel is 5, and still wets the bed more nights than not. (I hope he doesn’t kill me for writing this when he’s 12!) I was still using pull-ups at night, because even though I’ve met and married a wonderful man, I couldn’t justify spending $18 on one pair of nighttime trainers.
I wandered through Joann’s only to get the shock of my life – they now carry PUL fabric! I bought a yard, then realized I needed elastic. Fortunately, here we have a Fabric Outlet store that carries nearly anything a discriminating sewer could ask for at dirt cheap prices – I scored a 50 yd roll of fold over elastic for $2! I ran home and sewed a few pocket trainers, and they worked well.
Something began to weigh on my mind –
I knew there were other mothers out there who couldn’t afford cloth diapers (at least, not the kind a day care would use).
I looked around online and found a terrific one-size AIO pattern – the Little One Size by Little Comet Tails, gulped, ordered it and a pair of snap pliers and snaps from KAMsnaps, and set to work.
I started sewing piles of AIOs for the Morning Star pregnancy center, and I hope to get help in sewing 200. My cost per diaper is only $2.40 each, and I’m seeking help from our local church in buying the materials – my pace is 2 diapers a day average, but on a crazy day I’ll sew 4!
The volunteers at Morning Star are excited, especially because the people they help always ask for diapers, and they can only give out – are you ready for this? 12 disposables per family. They have to make those donations stretch, but 12??? That’s one day of the stomach bug!
But the numbers really tell the story. If I can get my 200 diapers sewn (at a cost of $500) and into the hands of 10 families, it will save EACH family over $960 a year on disposables! Over $70 a month for the people who need it most! Add that up – 10 families each saving $960 a year is a total of $9,600 in savings from a $500 investment. That’s $9,600 that the pregnancy center DOESN’T have to raise, that the community doesn’t have to donate, and that’s only in the first year!
These diapers, like all diapers, will wear out, but their life span should be about 3 years. In 3 years those 200 diapers that cost $500 to make will save the families $28,800!
Can you imagine, for a struggling mom, what a godsend these diapers will be? Imagine Morning Star pregnancy center, whose yearly fund raising project includes handing out baby bottles to be filled with change, being able to make their dollars go that much farther because they don’t need to get as many disposables with that money.
I’m networking locally, trying to find other sewing moms. If I can get people to commit to just sewing one diaper a day to give away, it will help those moms and babies so much faster than I can!
If anyone you know is interested in joining this effort, please pass on my email address – kelly.a.egan AT gmail DOT com. Kelly has had a huge response!! Please visit the Facebook page she has set up to better organize the effort: A Diaper A Day To Give Away
Thank you, and God bless!
Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ.
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I know this is probably a longshot, but are there any mommies on here that would be willing to donate some cloth diapers to a family in need? My email is email@example.com. If you would consider this. It would be the greatest blessing.
Patsy Shull says
Autumn directed me to your blog on her website. My name is Patsy Shull and I am president of a non profit organization called Newborns in Need. This is a national charity (newbornsinneed.org) and our chapter is located in southwest Missouri. We sew basic layette items for needy babies and work through pregnancy centers, hospitals and health departments. We are going to start sewing and then encouraging new moms to use cloth diapers. I have just begun the research and am overwhelmed. Autumn suggested contacting you. I would truly appreciate any help you could give us. We donate 2000+ items every month and we would like to be able to give 2 dozen diapers to each needy baby ( or is this enough or too many?). Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated.
I emailed you Kelly, am in the midst of making more diapers for our second little one on the way and would love to make a few for Morning Star. It’s great you are putting this cause out there, we wouldn’t have CD’ed had I not figured out I could sew and make them myself!
I don’t have skills to sew and not far from financial issues myself but I will spread the word on FB and Twitter. Maybe someone who can actually help out will see this.
You are an amazing women and your path is what makes you who you are today!
Thanks for sharing your story with us all.
Sharon Egan says
Kelly is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I am proud to be her mom. Morningstar pregnancy centers are throughout the country. Perhaps you could make and take to your local center. God bless all the little bottoms!
Trisha Kyte says
Please contact me via email. I can not donate sewing time, but maybe a few AIOs or prefolds from my store. I won’t be able to donate much as i am a very new, small business, but a few would be possible! -Trisha
Wow. This story made me cry. It’s so hard to choose between filling up the gas tank and going to the laundry (thank god I can walk to the laundromat or I don’t know what I would do)! Still, I have not yet bought a pack of throw aways, even when I have to wash by hand… What a great project! I’m going to try to start something similar here (with our ridiculously underfunded health department) as soon as I find some mom’s with sewing skills!!
Marisa Collins says
What an inspirational story, wishing her the best of luck in reaching her goal.
you have inspired me! :)
ok…I’m gonna learn how to sew
Karine Traverse says
Wow I wish I was better at sewing I would help out. This is a great story and I really hope she meets her goal.
I wish I had a sewing machine! What a fantastic story… you’re a remarkable woman!
hi kelly, thanks for sharing your inspiring story and also your love to help mommies and family to save. i love to be involved your project, how can i help through sewing?also i would like to learn how to sew it for the benefit also of helping my other mom friends =)
Jamie Lynn says
I would like to help, too, and I’m sure the other moms on my cloth diaper forum would like to as well!!!
Are you talking about Morning Star in Gulfport, MS? I used to volunteer there!!!
Kelly Sangree says
I’m in Harrisburg, PA – with a little luck and God’s help, we may be getting help in buying the PUL, elastic and snaps in the next few weeks. (The absorbent part is bath blanket and a stretchy t-shirt type knit). I’ll look at how feasible it is to send materials through the mail if you’re far and want to help.
Thank you and loads of love and blessings!
Kelley Franks says
Wow now that’s what I’m talking about! I’ve noticed that only the families that can afford the designer stuff can cd their babies these days… There is something very wrong with that picture. I’ve been sewing diapers for months now preparing for the arival of my grand daughter. I would love to donate them when she grows out of them. I would like to see all my hard work live on.
Would you be intrested in them?
Kelly Sangree says
I sure would!
What an amazing story! You truly are a wonderful person for not letting your hardship turn you to bitterness, but to helping others instead. Truly inspiring!
Rachel Sciorra says
I loved this story, it really touched my heart. Keep up the good work you are doing for others…You are an amazing person!
Who exactly does she give these diapers to?
Kelly Sangree says
I donate them to Morning Star pregnancy centers, and they give them to interested moms. As I get more organized I’ll have them done up in bundles of 10 or 12 – right now the volunteers don’t want to give a bunch away for fear they won’t be used. I say if they don’t give them away, they’re not getting used now! I also wrote an instruction sheet on how to use and wash them, and ad my 9 year old read it back to make sure anyone could understand it.
I guess it was pretty clear! The only thing she was confused about was why a baby boy and a baby girl need absorbency in different places!
Bless you for helping others! Maybe there could be a little information session or class that people attend before receiving the diapers and a chance to ask questions and let them decide if they want to try it. I’m thinking about all of the questions that I had when beginning to learn about cloth diapers, and how overwhelming the washing might seem for a family in crisis. Some tips and encouragement might help to ensure that all of your hard work is put to use and appreciated!
You’ve inspired me to find out more about our local pregnancy resource center!
I’m no seamstress, but I’d love to donate some money toward the cause. Any chance Kelly will set up a paypal or similar account for financial donations?
Kelly Sangree says
I finally did figure out the PayPal thing – the link is under the “info” part of the facebook page, but it isn’t the cute PayPal button, it’s just a url. Facebook and PayPal need to learn how to play nice together!
Britanie Myers says
WOW! This is really an amazing story! You are an awesome lady. :)
Heather Estey says
Where is she located??? I have sewn many diapers and would be very willing to help her reach her goal!