Diaper 'bucket brigade' is a boost to babies and employees
Endless boxes of diapers lined the top-floor windows of Weyerhaeuser's headquarters in Federal Way, Washington. Throughout March, Weyerhaeuser challenged its employees across the country to collect diapers that World Vision would distribute to families in need in the U.S.
They responded—accumulating over 630,000 diapers. April 8, 2013 was loading day. And 100 employees of one of the world's largest forest product companies gathered to form a bucket brigade to move the diapers down the halls into a World Vision truck.
Anne Leyva, of Weyerhaeuser's Corporate Social Responsibility team, gave a pep talk. "I got 20 emails this morning from scientists telling me that a bucket brigade is not efficient," she said as everyone around her laughed.
"This is not about scientific efficiency," Anne continued. "This is about coming together as a team, which we rarely do; celebrating our success, and remembering the families in need and why diapers are so important."
Many families in the U.S. struggle to afford these essentials of parenting, which can cost up to $150 a month. To save money, babies born into low-income families may spend a day or longer in one diaper, leading to health risks. World Vision works with churches and local partners across the country to give these diapers to those who need them. Weyerhaeuser is World Vision's largest contributor of diapers.
Tarah Seehafer, a Weyerhaeuser employee, said she has three kids who are "thankfully out of diapers!" She donated diapers and took more than an hour out of her busy work day to help load the boxes into the World Vision truck.
"I know how much money these cost and how often you have to change them," she said. "I can't imagine having to go longer to change a diaper or make choices between diapers or food."
Tarah and other employees stood for an hour, standing diagonally across from their colleagues and passing diapers down the halls into the truck. They laughed, they acted goofy, they met coworkers they'd never seen before, and they successfully loaded all the diapers.
"This has been so much fun," said Tarah. She met a couple of new people including "someone I'd been in many meetings with on the phone, but had never met in person."
"This does more than the diapers," said Anne Leyva. "It builds team spirit and morale. It increases employee retention. It helps them feel good about the company they work for."
She continued, "It really resonates with our employees. It's easy to do. Once people understand how diapers are such a necessity and how systems in place, WIC [Women, Infants, and Children, a federal nutrition program] and food stamps, don't cover diapers, they are eager to help."
Weyerhaeuser hosts a lot of volunteer and service events throughout the year. But, says Anne, "This is the one thing we do all together."
"Volunteerism and service is the ultimate act of democracy," said Romanita Hairston, vice president of U.S. Programs for World Vision, as she addressed the group. "It's a vote for the kind of community we want."
She thanked Weyerhaeuser "for being the kind of organization that makes a vote for our community. It's a great boost to us and to these families. Thank you to each and every one of you."