AVON PARK - The Aktion Club of Highlands County collected 11,083 diapers, 6,084 wipes and 20 baby blankets to help 10 local charities.
A total of $1,329.40 was collected in cash and that was converted into diapers and wipes purchased from Diapers.com. That shipment arrived Monday, in time for all the charities to receive their equal share of diapers on Thursday.
"The response has been overwhelming from our community and very much appreciated by all the charities being helped," Aktion Club Advisor Cindy Marshall said. "When we organized this project, we never dreamed it would be this huge, but we are glad everyone had such big hearts. No baby should be left lying in a soggy wet diaper just because a family can't afford to buy them. All of these charities reach out to help families in need."
The club kicked off the campaign March 20 with members bringing in their donations of 6,938 diapers and $335.27 in cash. The Aktion Club consists of 65 members who are all adults with disabilities who do civic projects in the community. Marshall challenged club members to see who could bring in the most diapers. The winner would be treated to a movie complete with snacks and a drink.
Bill Sobczak, of Sebring, took that lead and maintained it throughout the campaign. He collected 1,115 diapers and $642.48 in cash, which, converted to diapers brought his total to 4,035 diapers. Sobczak received assistance from his co-workers at Publix in Sebring and from residents at his mobile home community Leisure Acres.
The club then organized Diaper Dump Day on March 29 which brought in $994.13 in cash, 3,212 diapers and the blankets. There were 15 club members and four volunteers from the charities working along U.S. 27 in front of Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center collecting cash in milk jug canisters. A tent was set up along the road for the diaper dump-off.
The Highlands County Sheriff's Office contributed by collecting 2,400 diapers and more than $100 in cash. Courtney Godbold with the sheriff's finance department spearheaded their effort.
"I'm a single mom with two boys. One is 10 months old and one is 6 years old. I know how hard it is to buy diapers. They are expensive," Godbold said. "I sent out emails and handed everybody a flyer. They just came pouring in," she added.
Godbold also brought blankets, which were made by the Hands of Love group at Lake Bonnet Village in Avon Park. This group of ladies meets weekly for three months to sew or make items needed in the community.
Aktion Cub President Elizabeth Jordon was able to solicit the help of Comfort Keepers who donated 1,257 adult diapers. Those diapers will benefit charities like Ridge Area Arc and Nu-Hope Elder Care Services Inc.
The eight different children's charities who equally received 9,826 baby diapers, 6,084 baby wipes and 20 blankets were Avon Park Community Child Development Center, Children's Advocacy Center, Family Safehouse, Guardian ad Litem, Healthy Families, Healthy Start, One Hope United and Gulf Coast Early Steps Program.
The Aktion Club will make this an annual event for the local charities. Anyone wishing to help can call the club at 452-1295, ext. 124.