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Diapering Detroit

Diapering Detroit ELCA Youth Gathering participants will collect diapers as a part of their in-kind gifts when they meet in Detroit, July 15–19. The youth are asking Women of the ELCA to partner with them in the diaper collection.

by Heidi Hagstrom

In July, thousands of ELCA youth and adults will descend on Detroit for the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering. Key messages from Mark’s gospel are designed to inspire them to “Rise Up Together” and return to their home communities to “build bridges, bear burdens, break chains, and bring hope,” the mission statement of the gathering’s host synod, Southeastern Michigan.

The ELCA’s approach to the site of each triennial youth gathering can be likened to walking a labyrinth, which often takes you places you don’t expect. That is certainly true for our journey alongside the people of Detroit. While the media leads us down a discouraging path through the stories it tells of Detroit, those of us planning the event have witnessed stories of Detroit residents who are fearlessly and enthusiastically reinvesting in the city’s rising. For example, Marybeth Levine wants to supply enough diapers for everyone who needs them.

Marybeth, a.k.a. the “Diaper Lady” recognized a need and created a solution in 2009 by starting the Detroit Area Diaper Bank (DADB). She was motivated by stories of low-income families stealing or reusing diapers. She also heard stories of desperate moms and dads sending their toddlers to preschool wearing plastic grocery bags when their supply of diapers ran out.

You are invited

Women of the ELCA groups are invited to join ELCA youth in collecting diapers for their in-kind gifts to Detroit. Connect with young people in your congregation who are going to the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering to find out how you can help. Perhaps a gift of money would be easiest for the youth to carry. If so, they could buy diapers in Detroit and help its economy.
If your congregation is not sending youth to the gathering, you might connect with a gathering synod coordinator (www.elca.org/gathering) to find a congregation near you that is. At the request of youth in your congregation, you can send a check made out to Women of the E LCA with “Youth Gathering–diapers” in the memo line to ELCA Gift Processing Center, P.O. Box 1809, Merrifield, VA 22116-8009. You also can ship the diapers directly to Immanuel Lutheran Church, 13031 Chandler Park Drive, Detroit, Mich., 48213.

Collecting, sorting, and delivering diapers are among the service projects young people attending the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering will participate in. Diapers will be collected at the 150-plus hotels where youth groups will stay. On their service day, young people will load the diapers into trailers that will be hauled by local volunteers to the Starfish Family Services building. ELCA youth will unload the diapers into the Starfish facility, take inventory, and organize them by size. The greatest need is for children’s sizes 3 and 4, but all sizes will be appreciated, including incontinence supplies for adults. Wipes are also needed.

Heidi Hagstrom is director for the ELCA Youth Gathering.

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