May 12, 2008 12:00 PM

Joanne Goldblum, 43

New Haven, Conn.

A DISTURBING DISCOVERY: Visiting the homes of poor families in the late 1990s, social worker Joanne Goldblum saw something that shocked her. “Babies were wearing the same diapers as the night before,” she recalls. She later learned neither food stamps nor most other federal subsidies cover diapers, which can cost $1,500 for a year’s supply. “It made me angry—we don’t take care of kids.”

INNOVATIVE IDEA: Launching her nonprofit Diaper Bank in 2004, Goldblum would buy boxes of diapers at discount retailers, then drive them in a minivan to local agencies for distribution. Enlisting friends and holding walkathons to raise cash, the married mom of three has since hired two assistants and moved the operation from her living room to a donated warehouse; she now provides 80,000 diapers a month. “[Without clean diapers], children get rashes, infections, disease,” says Natasha Ray of the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven. “Joanne’s had a huge impact.”

ONE LESS WORRY: For Jackie Fletcher, 20, the single mom of a 1- and 2-year-old, diapers have been a big help as she juggles a sales job with studies to become a medical assistant. Says Fletcher: “It’s meant so much.”

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