Recognizing the specialized needs of the youngest children it serves, Cradles to Crayons today announced plans to mount an intensive month-long Gear Up for Baby drive throughout the region during June to collect everyday essentials for babies in their first, vulnerable years of life.

“There are nearly 100,000 children, aged 0 to 24 months,living in our community in poverty-stricken situations,” said Michal Smith, executive director of Cradles to Crayons. “The goal of our Gear Up for Baby drive is to be able to provide them the everyday essentials – diapers, baby hygiene items, wipes, infant socks, baby safety equipment, and so much more – that they need to survive and thrive.”

During the month of June there will be a number of baby-centric events throughout the region, including a diaper drive, a baby-bundle packing event, and multiple community collections for most-needed baby items.

Foundation for Babies is joining with Cradles to Crayons in the 2013 drive for diapers and other infant and toddler items, a partnership that Smith said her organization was thrilled to embrace. “Foundation for Babies,” she said, “is the standard by which all diaper drives are measured; we welcome them in a mutual effort to help the youngest children in this area.”

For a familyliving in this area, it costs more than $10,000 to support a child in her/his first year of life. “With such expensive requirements,” Smith declared, “many of the families we serve are unable to afford to adequately care for their children.

“Of the 16,500 children Cradles to Crayons will serve this year, more than one-third are under the age of two. Sadly, we are always short of items for this most vulnerable population. For example,” she said, “last year, we were able to supply just half of the 1,700 strollers ordered by our social services partners for children in need.

“While not having diapers prevents a mom from placing her child in daycare, they are of no value if there is no stroller or car seat to transport the young child. The result: Mom is homebound, which means she cannot go to school or work to break the cycle of poverty in the family.

“Our Gear Up for Baby drive,” Smith concluded, “will encourage everyone to get involved, by making donations, hosting collection events, or by donating essential items.”

CLICK HERE for more information