The Torrance County DWI Prevention and Teen Court programs are conducting a community service project to help youngest members of the community, by first collecting donations and then distributing free diapers and wipes.
The project has multiple aims: providing a platform for young people to do community service as well as providing a needed commodity to people. That’s according to DWI Prevention Program coordinator Tracey Master.
“We have to find sometimes more creative ways for the youth to get these community service opportunities,” she said. “This is a great way for the youth to help people in their community.”
Of the diaper distribution, Master pointed to high levels of poverty in the area. Statistics from the state and the national Census say that in 2019, a quarter of New Mexicans under age 18 lived in poverty; more than one in five people in Torrance County live in poverty.
“We’re two years into a pandemic where a lot of parents have lost their jobs, or they’re underemployed,” Master said. “I choose to see the good in people and I choose to believe people are doing the best they can. We’ve all needed help at one time or another in our lives.”
When basic needs like food, shelter and clothing aren’t met, “they’re focusing on trying to survive,” Master said. “Then DWI prevention doesn’t mean crap to them. So if they’re fighting to survive in the first place, you can’t expect anything further. That’s where you see the deficiencies and things like addictions or substance abuse.”
Locations for people to drop donations diapers and baby wipes will be set up in towns around the area, and distribution will be in the same towns.
The teens coming through teen court will help the community, but also see community building in action, Master said, explaining, “I want more for our community. If it means holding a diaper drive once, or maybe twice a year, or putting together a clothing closet at the high school so student needs are met, we’ll do it. How are you going to succeed if you don’t have food? How are you going to succeed if you don’t have clothes? If we can meet some basic needs, that increases their resiliency. It helps the teens know there is somebody in the community who cares. Youth need that.”
Through the end of February, the following locations will accept donations for the drive: Mountainair Meds & More in Mountainair; the Torrance County Admin Building in Estancia; ButterCrust Pizza in Moriarty; and The Independent newspaper in Edgewood.
The program will also have collection drives as follows: Saturday, Feb. 5, from 1-3 p.m. at Crossley Park in Moriarty; Saturday, Feb. 12, from 11-1 at Venus Park in Edgewood; Saturday, Feb. 19, from 11-1 at Lake Arthur Park in Estancia; and Saturday, Feb. 26, from 11-1 in Mountainair at Mountainair Meds & More.
Diapers will be distributed as follows: Saturday, March 5 from 11-1 in Mountainair at Mountainair Meds and More; Saturday, March 12 from 11-1 at Lake Arthur Park in Estancia; Saturday, March 19 from 11-1 at Crossley Park in Moriarty; and Saturday, March 26 from 11-1 at Venus Park in Edgewood.
If donors are unable to meet at the designated times or locations, those interested may contact the Torrance County DWI Prevention Program on Facebook, via email at email@example.com, or by calling 505-705-0332, to make arrangements to meet to pick up donations.
The distribution dates and times are set.