Local Schools

Ascension School sixth graders collect diapers and raise awareness

Sixth graders at Ascension School in Overland Park take boxes of diapers that the school collected to a waiting van from Happy Bottoms, a nonprofit based in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 15. The sixth grade students collected more than 7,000 diapers and $800 in donations from their school community. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Moira Cullings

OVERLAND PARK — One out of every two families in the United States can’t afford enough diapers to keep their baby clean and dry, according to the data collected in 2023 by the National Diaper Bank Network.

As they learned about the need, Ascension School students in Overland Park were eager to do something about it.

Boxes of diapers lined the tops of bookshelves in the school’s library at Ascension on April 25.

They were collected by the school’s sixth graders as part of a STEM project and donated that day to Happy Bottoms, a nonprofit based in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Every month, they give families that need diapers 75 diapers per month,” said sixth grader Ellie Mullen. “Our job was to come to school and raise awareness of that and [collect] diapers.

“We succeeded.”

The sixth graders collected more than 7,000 diapers and $800 in donations from their school community.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” said Mullen.

“It was really rewarding to see we actually did it,” said Anna Henderson, “and we raised a lot of money and awareness in general for diaper need.”

Lucy Walsh agreed.

“It felt really good to see us giving back to people who need it more than us,” she said. “It was really rewarding to see how much stuff we got.”

Boxes of diapers collected by Ascension’s sixth grade class as part of a STEM project are taken from the school library where they had been stored to a van outside the school. The students spent weeks advertising the need for diapers around school. In the process, they learned about how great the need for diapers is across the country and the Kansas City community. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The project was led by Ascension enrichment coordinator and STEM teacher Carrie Brun and technology teacher Tara Masek.

“For sixth grade, we wanted to give them something that was more of a leadership opportunity,” said Brun, and a way to “learn more about being a steward of Christ and helping in different ways, but also using real-world applications.”

This was the second year the sixth grade class took on this type of project.

The students created posters to place around school and produced videos for the school’s “Eagle Insider” morning broadcast.

Members of the leadership team also crafted an email to let the school’s parents know about the project.

“We’d tell everybody to bring in diapers,” said Lucy Wagner, and each grade was asked to bring a particular size.

The sixth graders also visited classrooms to spread the word and hosted a bake sale, which raised $818 for Happy Bottoms.

In the end, Ascension’s first grade class brought in the most diapers.

Sixth graders at Ascension School in Overland Park take down boxes of diapers from a bookshelf. The students collected the items from the entire school and donated them to Happy Bottoms. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Brun said philanthropy is nothing new for the school community.

“But we wanted to do something a little bit different that the [parents] haven’t heard about,” said Brun, “because then, they’re going to be more apt to want to help.”

The students chose to support Happy Bottoms this year and, throughout the experience, learned more about the work the nonprofit does.

“I think that it taught us a lot about the need of diapers and necessities in general,” said Jonah Winkler, “especially in the Kansas City area.”

“They really were shocked about how many families need diapers,” said Masek. “They were not aware of how much need there is in our community.”

As their understanding grew, the students were even more excited to tackle the project.

“I thought it taught us a lot about awareness and people’s needs and how we can’t just always think of ourselves,” said Ava Stanley. “We have to think of the needs of others.”

The amount of success they had was the cherry on top.

“I think it feels good to help people who are in need of things,” said Claire Krenn. “It makes us feel more supportive of our community.”

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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