How WestSide Baby Will Emerge:
FAQ for Operations during COVID-19: Phase II and beyond
What is the main factor driving WestSide Baby’s decisions for distribution, volunteers, and item collection?
WestSide Baby exists to provide basic essentials for children in need. Our operations during the COVID-19 pandemic have, and will continue to, center our community – families furthest from access to essential items. We will work through our network of 100+ partner organizations to find out what families need most immediately, and then we will focus our efforts to source and supply those items.
During this pandemic, we will also center the health & safety of our staff, volunteers, and donors by keeping volunteer and item collection within the social distancing guidance provided by Public Health Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health.
We absolutely understand our community’s desire to help during this time, and we are here to transform your resources into what children in our community need most right now.
WestSide Baby’s Phased Re-Emergence Plan, May 2020
How is WestSide Baby meeting the most urgent needs?
In March, WestSide Baby adapted quickly to find innovative ways to meet an unprecedented level of need. We have expanded partnerships that allow us to procure critical items in bulk, often in new condition that minimize the time and labor needed to process and distribute these items quickly! We increased our diaper distribution 82% over the same time period last year, while also adding 47 new community sites around King County to distribute items to families quickly and efficiently.
What is WestSide Baby currently distributing?
WestSide Baby is currently distributing all sizes of diapers and pull-ups, wipes, formula, hygiene items, clothing bags, car seats, strollers and high chairs and other equipment as requested by families and the providers who have an opportunity to serve their clients at this time.
How can I donate items right now and when will WestSide Baby start to collect used items again?
Based on a recent survey to our provider partners, in order to meet the incredible demand for families facing a basic needs crisis in our community, we need donations of diapers, wipes, and all hygiene products at this time. In order to focus our capacity on the greatest needs, and for the safety of our staff, these are the only items we are able to collect at this time. We are collecting these items at our White Center Hub on Wednesdays from 10am-2pm, and at our South Lake Union Branch on Mondays from 10am-2pm as well as via our Amazon wish list: bit.ly/diapersforallbabies.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we were in the process of sorting a large inventory of baby and children clothing collected from the community through drives, collection site partners, and our regular donation operations. We are providing clothing bags to all families who request them at this time due to this large inventory, and will expand item collection as King County moves into Phase III, and once we have sorted and distributed through our current inventory.
Additionally, as we move toward our annual JOY drive campaign, we will be reaching out to all our community again to collect most needed items for families experiencing a basic needs crisis in our community.
How can I volunteer and when will regular shifts start up again?
During Phase II in King County, indoor gatherings are restricted to 5 people outside of your family or household and we are maintaining that safety rule in our warehouse at this time. With a majority of our staff also continuing to work off-site as much as possible outside of distribution and required preparation, it is crucial that we continue to limit the number of individuals gathered in our shared spaces to prevent the spread of the virus.
We have an extremely limited opportunity to have volunteers at this time as we test out new safety protocols including social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing, and modifying volunteer projects which typically revolve around high touch of many items.
We recognize the deeply personal connection that each of our volunteers has to their work at WestSide Baby. This organization was founded and run by volunteers when we began in 2001, and volunteers continue to be the heart of our operations, even now, while we cannot be together.
As we move into Phase III and beyond, as seen in the chart above, we will be able to have more volunteers working together in our space, again.
What can I do with gently-used items that WestSide Baby is currently unable to accept?
WestSide Baby has wonderful relationships with many other organizations and businesses that collect gently-used items. Prior to the pandemic, we partnered with these organizations to share inventory and ensure items we had in excess were redirected where our partners had a deficit. Many of these organizations and businesses have also had to stop or change how they accept items due to the COVID-19 virus and the safety of their staff and volunteers, but some are able to take items at this time.
We heartily encourage you to donate your items to El Centro de La Raza, Mary’s Place, Eastside Baby Corner, Wellspring Baby Boutique, Goodwill or other consignment stores that cater to children and families. Please review the donation policies of each organization before donating. Many are operating in a limited capacity and require masks or other procedures during the donation process.
At this time, like WestSide Baby, YouthCare and Treehouse are unable to accept donations of used items, but are accepting donations of new items through their wish list or monetary donations to support their mission.
What is WestSide Baby considering moving forward?
While the day-to-day operations of our buildings in White Center and South Lake Union continue to be vastly different, not unlike the businesses and restaurants of our surrounding neighborhood, and the workplaces and schools of our spouses, parents, and children, our team is continuing to listen and respond to the greatest needs of our community.
Since March, the entire WestSide Baby staff has continued to work full-time in order to continually listen, respond, react, and change to meet the needs of our community, focusing on families most impacted by the basic needs gap. Before the pandemic, we already knew almost 1 in 4 families in King County were experiencing diaper need. With heightened unemployment rates, virtual school, and various other resources such as safe childcare or transportation being limited, WestSide Baby is honored to continue to meet the long-haul emergency requests of basic needs.
WestSide Baby is on track to distribute over 2 million diapers this year, the most we have ever distributed in a single calendar year. However, if we were to meet the need of the 23% of families experiencing diaper need in King County, we estimate we would need to distribute well over 32 million diapers.
Our work continues, on the ground, and looking upstream at the policies and structures that exclude Black families, Indigenous families, and families of color from having equitable access to the things they need.