MATC students orchestrate a charitable deal for diapers

Class project aims to help young parents in need

Oct. 26, 2012

West Allis - When people think of helping those in need, their thoughts often turn to common forms of charity, such as those dealing with cancer victims, veterans or the homeless. They don't often consider the plight of young parents still in high school.

And they certainly don't think of significant practical aspect of teen parents face daily: diapers.

A MATC class project-turned-charity focuses precisely on that group and that concern, in a special collection program aimed specifically at Milwaukee Public Schools.

One of the core problems that many teen parents face is proper diapering and having enough diapers to put on their child. That's what students enrolled in a business communications class at Milwaukee Area Technical College's West Allis campus considered as they established their class project.

A diaper deposit

The MATC students ultimately decided to hold start a diaper bank for teen parents in need of diapers. Locally, the project was centered around a collection at the MATC West Allis campus on Oct. 17. A similar effort was conducted Oct. 11 at MATC's downtown Milwaukee campus.

As part of the collection, people could either donate cash, diaper coupons or boxes of diapers. Students handed out fliers detailing their cause and many of the people who received the fliers to eventually returned to donate.

Gershia Coggs, the instructor of the business communications class, got the idea for the project from watching a cable news program on CNN about diaper banks. It opened her eyes about such a routine issue for parents can be a big problem for the youngest of them.

"Many low-income parents in this economy have to cut back," Coggs said. "However, when it comes to diapering your child you cannot cut back, and the cost of diapers can be very, very expensive.

"The (CNN) special was talking about how a group of people got together and organized a way to put together a diaper bank so that people who were unable to purchase their diapers could go to this diaper bank and obtain the diapers that they need."

Giving to an idea

Larry Cook, one of the students involved in the project, says that this started out as just a class project for him, but has garnered a greater appreciation for those in need.

"At first it didn't really seem to get to me at all, but after I thought about it and the fact that it's helping out people who need a hand, I realized it's all about giving back. I didn't know that at one time, but now I do" said Cook.

Coggs - whose classes have done similar charitable work in the past, including one collecting items for the homeless population - said the collections have done well, and it didn't end with the two collection days in West Allis and Milwaukee. Both classes are also collecting donations via mail. These donations can be sent to 700 W. State St., Room M-829 Milwaukee WI, 53233.

The students are also planning another diaper collection later on in the semester before Christmas.

Orchestrated with MPS

Ultimately, the diapers and dollars will end up in the hands of MPS, which has a department which works with teen parents. Instead of purchasing the diapers themselves, the MATC class is going to let MPS purchase the diapers because MPS can use a tax-exempt status to purchase the diapers at greater quantities and lower prices.

Though it's a charitable effort, the diapers won't be available for free. They will cost ten cents each for the teen parents in MPS.

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