Cold Spring Harbor High School student Harry Jones was inspired by parents who said they have to make heartbreaking financial choices, so he set out to make their lives a little easier.
The 11th-grader collected 10,000 diapers — and counting — over three weeks for local families in need.
Jones, 16, a student ambassador for the Save the Children Long Island Council over the past four years, wanted to organize a charity drive that would not entail just donating money. Save the Children is a nonprofit that aims to help children attain the right to survival, protection, development and participation regardless of race, gender, orientation or socioeconomic background, according to its website.
That mission statement and his own good fortune inspired him to move ahead with the diaper drive.
"Since people who are less fortunate have to work a lot harder in other aspects, like an extra job, people like me should make up for it and help them out in other ways," he said.
According to his mother, Carolyn Jones, a video sent to ambassadors from the president of Save The Children Long Island Council featured stories of families from the Greater DC Diaper Bank highlighting choices some parents have to make: pay the rent, buy food, or buy diapers. That sparked Jones' initiative in mid-February.
At first, he contacted diaper companies for donations and social media influencers to get the word out, but didn’t get very far. He then reached out to his Long Island community, and the diaper drive took off.
"We were shopping on Amazon one day and we're like everyone does this so we might as well give them our address and they can add an order of diapers to their daily order and ship it to us to help others out," Jones said.
Cold Spring Harbor school district and public library, the Cold Spring Harbor Warriors Soccer Dads, St. Patrick's Church, Huntington Public Library and the Huntington YMCA were some of the organizations that allowed receptacles to be placed in its buildings. The drive also made it into one church bulletin.
Town of Huntington had a receptacle in Town Hall, where dozens of diapers were collected by staff, who are the only people allowed in the building because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci recently presented Jones with a pin of the town seal for his efforts, something Harry said was a "big honor and a special moment."
The diapers will be distributed to Long Island families through the Family Service League, a nonprofit social service agency.
Karen Boorshtein, president and chief executive of Family Service League, said workers in the agency’s program see the same needs in Long Island communities that Jones witnessed in the video that inspired him.
"We’re grateful that Harry, a young person, already has philanthropy in his bones and is giving back to the community," she said. "We see it day in and day out from the families we serve, ‘what do I do, do I get diapers or pay my rent today.’ "
Jones may not be done yet, saying there could be another diaper drive in his future.
"I think it's really important, especially for someone who is really comfortable in life to do their part to help others who aren't as fortunate," he said.
Family Service League is still accepting diapers. Donations can be dropped off at its administrative offices at Family Service League, 790 Park Ave., Huntington, NY 11743.