5 people standing in front of diaper boxes
Pastor James joins the team in the photograph of the volunteers.

SHELBY — It’s not actually a business when you give stuff away, but Shelby’s First Presbyterian Church’s volunteer group’s handling of the Shelby Diaper Bank is treating it like a very serious business.

Recently the diaper bank underwent some major changes, and they weren’t sure it would continue. Pastor James Robinson, of the UCC Church and Shelby’s First Presbyterian Church, was determined to see it through.

The completely redone Diaper Room. They’ve added shelving and signage to streamline the process. 

“It had already done so much for the community, and we were having such a huge turn-out for that one hour a month when we distributed free diapers,” Robinson said, “that we just couldn’t let it fail.”

Robinson, known locally as Pastor James, rounded up some of the previous volunteers, and a few new ones, to create a board that dedicated themselves to making sure the diaper bank didn’t go away.

“We made major changes,” said Pastor James of the new board. “We bought shelving because the room where we kept the diapers was just a mess of diapers everywhere.

“We put up signage and added tables where volunteers could sit to bag up the diapers.”

The board also started doing inventory of all donations and has just begun sending out thank-you cards to donors.

The living room at Demrie Alonzo’s house is the first stop for diapers before they are transferred to the third floor of the Shelby First Presbyterian Church.

“We want to let people and groups know how much we appreciate what they’re doing for these babies,” said Demrie Alonzo, one of the board members.

A new Amazon Wishlist was created and, since the church is only open certain hours, Alonzo agreed to have the diapers delivered to her home.

“I came home one day, and I couldn’t see my porch, there were so many boxes. I was so excited!”

And the donations keep coming in. To make things fun, they’ve added a raffle for anyone donating diapers.

For every item donated, the person is entered into a raffle for whatever special gift is being offered that month. For September, they have two pairs of tickets to any regular show at the Renaissance Theater for the current season.

“It’s a way of saying thank-you to those who donate,” Pastor James said.

The board members have divided up the tasks so that no one volunteer is too overwhelmed. Pastor James oversees the project while Sue Fairchild handles phone calls and inquiries.

She’s even run to the church on her own time to receive in diapers.

On Diaper Distribution Day, the 78-year-old volunteer is in the thick of things, bagging diapers and making sure things run smoothly.

Demrie Alonzo’s porch is completely covered in boxes of diapers.

Monica Gayheart Myers prints all the necessary forms, and there’s a lot of them.

She also fills in wherever she’s needed and makes the numerous runs up and down the three flights of stairs from the ground floor to where the diapers are kept.

She is the secretary and reminds the board members what was discussed or decided on.

Kelsie Goodman Brooks is the newest member of the board and has pitched in wherever she’s needed. She’s also helped come up with fresh, new ideas.

Alonzo made up the new Facebook page and logo and tries to keep up with the inventory.

“We’re a great team, and we all love being a part of this.”

Several other people have volunteered to help on distribution day, from bagging diapers and wipes to running them up and down the stairs to get them to waiting cars.

Garland “JR” Harvey of Blue Rose Mission, and his wife Jen from Shelby Schools, were runners this past month and have volunteered again for October.

It used to be that each month was a struggle to have enough diapers to cover that month’s distribution.

As of the middle of September, enough donations have come in to put them a few months ahead, which is a huge weight off their shoulders.

They’ve had large donations from organizations like the Rotary Club and Lions Club and Eagles Club, but most of the donations have come from individuals just wanting to help.

In fact, Pastor James’ two churches have carried the bulk of the responsibility of keeping the diaper bank in stock.

In July, the diaper bank gave out only a little over 600 diapers when people were worried that it might no longer continue.

In August, after a new Facebook page and lots of promotions, over 3,600 diapers were distributed.

They expect to give out much the same in October.

For anyone interested in getting diapers, they are distributed at the Shelby First Presbyterian Church on the fourth Monday of every month between 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

You can drive right up to the side door between the church and the post office, and someone will come to your vehicle to assist you.

For anyone willing to donate, you can go to their Facebook page to look up their Amazon Wishlist, or merely purchase diapers and contact the Shelby First Presbyterian Church at 419-347-5686 to set up a drop-off time or to have a volunteer come pick up the diapers.

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