July 18, 2012 2 Comments
. . . are surprisingly hard to unload, particularly if the diapers were on pallets that were loaded on the truck sideways. I can say this now from first hand experience, since I participated in my first truck unloading last week, as a board member of The Diaper Bank in North Haven, CT. The Diaper Bank is serving as a hub for our east coast distribution of diapers this month, and received two truckloads of diapers, each containing 268,240 diapers. The diapers in this truckload came on 30 pallets, or more precisely, what seemed to me to be 30 double decker pallets, which created a high and not entirely stable stack of diapers held together with shrink wrap. Sort of. When the pallet jack was operated by less experienced hands, the diapers could (and did) topple over, creating a cascade of boxes in the middle of the warehouse.
Have I mentioned this was my first actual experience with a truck full of diapers? I have been on a board of The Diaper Bank for nearly three years, and part of my current work duties is to help orchestrate the flow of diapers across the country (although I admittedly leave most of the orchestration to the very capable and charming Chris Blake, senior vice president of our distribution partner, Kids in Distressed Situations). But I had never before seen what a truck load of diapers looks like. Now I have. It is a [expletive deleted] lot of diapers.
And the diapers were not loaded on nicely so that we could use the pallet jack to get them off relatively quickly (getting 30 pallets off a truck, even with a pallet jack is not a “quick” process). The pallets were all turned, so initially we started unloaded box by box to clear one pallet out of the way to get the next off with the pallet jack. (A pallet jack, for the uninitiated is sort of like a manual fork lift. It has two long prongs which go into the openings at the bottom of the pallet and allows you to lift the pallet off the floor so you can roll the pallet away to where you want it in the warehouse. But you need to be able to get to the two slots at the bottom of each pallet to use it. If they are turned so that the slots are perpendicular to the side of the truck, and thus unaccessible, you can’t use the jack.) Then the ever resourceful Kym Hunter, Program Director of The Diaper Bank, got the great idea to strap belts around the pallets so we could pull them into the open area of the truck so we could maneuver a pallet jack around to pick them up. Not quite as efficient as having straightforward access to the pallet slots, but a definite improvement over unstacking the pallets box by box. (Here’s a picture of Kym Hunter and Eboni Costi after wrestling a doubledecker pallet to the warehouse)
Having seen how much space 268,240 diapers take, I now have a better appreciation for how many diapers that really is. But I am also even more amazed when I realize how little that number will do to help the diaper need problem facing our nation. Without getting into questions about sizes and such, and assuming an average of 50 diaper changes a week, 268,240 diapers would provide a week’s worth of diaper changes for 5,364 children, or a year’s worth of changes for about 104 children. The Diaper Bank in North Haven helps 4000 families monthly. Even if these diapers were going to stay in North Haven, they would be a great help, but not enough. These diapers, however, are destined not only for The Diaper Bank, but will also be distributed to other diaper banks in the Northeast. And there are still other trucks filled with diapers going out to other distribution points throughout the country (another shout out to Chris Blake–THANK YOU).
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, “So How Many Diapers Do We Need?,” we need billions of diapers to help the 5.7 million infants and toddlers living in poor and low-income families. Every little bit helps–every package of diapers you bring to a local diaper bank helps a family in need, and every dollar you give can be used to buy diapers. Help us close the diaper gap.