A parade of people wearing diapers and baby costumes took to the streets of Federal Way on April 11, celebrating the “catastrophic success” of this year’s March of Diapers fundraiser.
In its seventh year, the March of Diapers is as grassroots as it gets, said Cheryl Hurst, fundraiser organizer and founder of Do the Right Thing nonprofit.
Even compared to pre-pandemic years, this year’s March of Diapers was a triumphant show of generosity from cities all over the South Puget Sound.
In total, more than 305,800 diapers and 141,700 wipes were collected throughout the month of March with more donations, or donated funds to purchase the items, still trickling in.
“In a world where everything is falling apart, this was the biggest, best come-together that I’ve experienced in my lifetime,” Hurst said, tearing up. “’Thank you’ isn’t enough, gratitude isn’t enough. There isn’t a word for it. What can you say more than ‘thank you’ about something that is astronomically phenomenal?”
The donations will be distributed to 15 local nonprofits spanning from Tacoma to Everett, including several organizations in Federal Way such as the Multi-Service Center, El Centro De La Raza, FUSION and more.
Diapers, along with some other hygiene items, are not covered by federal financial assistance programs, Hurst said. In addition, many service facilities lack a sufficient supply of diapers and wipes to provide to families in need — not just in Federal Way, but across the nation.
While the March of Diapers has been a trademark event in Federal Way for several years, the 2021 fundraiser reached a much larger audience. Thousands of diaper donations were contributed by local businesses, local Starbucks stores and corporate participants, churches, nearby cities, and generous individuals by the dozen.
On a recent Sunday, a group of about 17 people donned diapers, baby bibs and other goofy costumes to parade from the southwest end of 320th Street to downtown Federal Way.
Some walked the route while others ran.
The first person of the diaper parade often turns heads, the second gets a laugh, and when people see the rest of the group, questions and cameras come out, said five-year March of Diapers participant Ted Colby Sanchez.
“I feel like we turned a corner this year … now there are a lot of more groups bringing in large numbers of diapers,” said Colby Sanchez, who collectively donated more than 100,000 diapers with the help of his colleagues.
In a year filled with layoffs and hardships, a bit of goofiness on a spring day is a relief. But the greater relief is to those with young children who will benefit from the diaper stockpile.
“Babies are born where they’re born,” Colby Sanchez said. “There’s no reason a baby shouldn’t have a clean and dry diaper, nobody should have to earn that.”
For more information, visit dotherightthingnonprofit.org.