In the previous issue of Lagniappe, the cover feature, “Bottoms Up: JLNO’s Diaper Bank Expands Reach Across the Nation,” aquainted readers with the Junior League of New Orleans' collaboration with Giggles Child Development Center. The Jackson Barracks-based organization assists families as they “prepare for, return from or currently serve in active duty military deployment overseas.” Since deployment often effectively creates a single-parent environment at home, JLNO’s significant donation of diapers through the league’s Diaper Bank can ease the financial burden it may impose on families.
“Some of us may have donated diapers at some point during our membership. Others may have participated in a diaper sort,” says active Anna Dearmon Kornick, Communications Council Director. “What many members don’t see are the actual families who benefit from our service. The fact that we’re able to provide all of the diapers that these kids need is a huge weight lifted from these soldiers."
CW4 Melonie Pinchon, director of Giggles, says that JLNO has made a tremendous impact in the delivery of desperately needed diapers for armed services families. The JLNO donation, she says, lightens the load of those already burdened with the sacrifices serving in the military requires.
“Many of these parents are serving in a combat zone, thus leaving family members to care for their children,” Melonie says. “At least now, they don’t have to worry about ensuring the child’s basic needs are met. Thank you JLNO!”
Business Council Director Heather Millican Doyle with twins Chance and Chazz Johnson at the Giggles Christmas lunch Photo by: Anna Kornick
Junior League of New Orleans’s commitment to Giggles didn’t end with a one-time diaper bank donation. Now, JLNO has expanded its efforts to equip the child development center with a supply of quality sleepwear they can issue to their students and their families.
It began when Business Council Director Heather Doyle contacted clothing brand Kickee Pants in hopes of the league participating in its “Kickee Gives Back Program,” a charitable campaign for the company that gives its popular bamboo pajamas and blankets to those in need. By working with the vendor directly, she secured a significant contribution of infant and adult pajamas—items whose retail value ranges from $28.50 to $80 each.
“I was expecting a small box of a few items. But, Kickee Pants sent us three large boxes, tightly packed with numerous items,” Heather explains. “We sent several infant items to the New Orleans Family Justice Center, and the adult pajamas went to Covenant House for their holiday gifts. Then, the majority of infant clothing and bibs went to Giggles, because they care for so many infants.”
Ethan Ramos and Staff Sergeant Ramos take a photo with Santa (Staff Sergeant Christopher Casler). Photo by: Anna Kornick
As soon as Doyle delivered two bags filled with Kickee Pants clothing for their annual holiday gathering, she was convinced that the decision to allocate some of the donation to Giggles was the right one.
“After touring the facility and seeing the baby room, it was clear that this was the right place for the rest of the donation,” she explained. “There are babies of every age, loved and cared for by the fabulous staff. And these are children of soldiers who are serving our country. We need to make sure that this facility has everything they need.”
Every day, Giggles provides wrap-around services that offer these parents and guardians much-needed support and relief. According to Melonie, Giggles is home to “quality child care for children ages six weeks through twelve years old” that delivers a “stimulating, creative, positive and secure learning environment to develop children’s overall skills and self-concept.”
For a child of deployed parents, basic childhood skills—counting, alphabet recognition, social interaction and growth development, for example—might develop more slowly since primary caregivers are not able to work with the child at home. Giggles’ programs are a stop-gap ensuring that no child is left behind due to her parent’s service to the country.
In addition to the previous Diaper Bank and Kickee Pants donations, the League delivered two large boxes of clothing, so infants up to 12 months will be set for winter and summer gear in the months ahead. JLNO is also sponsoring the construction of wide rocking chairs to provide comfortable seating while babies are rocked at Giggles.
As Junior League of New Orleans continues building its relationship with Giggles Child Development Center, Melonie encourages any JLNO member interested in volunteering with her organization to call 504-682-2266. For those willing to make a financial contribution, Giggles’ most immediate need is iPads to offer interactive learning tools to the children they serve.
Business Council Director Heather Millican Doyle, Santa (Staff Sergeant Christopher Casler), Communications Council Director Anna Kornick and President Kristen Koppel celebrate the holidays at the Giggles Christmas lunch. Photo provided by: Anna Kornick