UNDATED -- Rioting, looting and vandalism following the deadly arrest of George Floyd have left a significant number of Minneapolis and St. Paul businesses in ruins or closed, making it difficult for residents to secure essential items.

But many of the cities' tiniest citizens will not go without diapers, thanks to the quick work of St. Cloud area donors and volunteers.

Justin Michael, founder and organizer of volunteer-led relief effort “Operation: Baby New Year” estimates around 150,000 diapers and 80,000 baby wipes were either donated or purchased with donor funds in St. Cloud over a two-day period and delivered to some of the hardest-hit areas in the Twin Cities.

“Big box stores, where larger quantities of diapers are available, are shuttered,” Michael explained. “Smaller convenience stores, where smaller quantities of diapers are available usually at a higher price, will not sustain the need.”

Much of the effort was coordinated via Facebook. Michael says pallets of diapers and wipes were collected at the effort’s storage facility near Eastman Park in St. Cloud. A small group of volunteers brought the items to a variety of drop sites in both cities, including Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Paul and 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the site of George Floyd’s fatal arrest.

Michael estimates the value of the donated diapers and wipes at $30,000. He says the collection effort will continue as metro neighborhood businesses continue to clean up and safely reopen.

“Many people have already lost their jobs due to COVID-19,” Michael said. “Public transportation is currently unavailable in many areas. The need for diaper assistance is a year-round issue in Minnesota cities, but it will become a crisis for the families and neighbors to our south.”

Founded in 2015, Operation: Baby New Year’s diaper drives are typically held in December, with diapers and proceeds benefiting St. Cloud area residents and organizations. To learn more about how to donate diapers, baby wipes, formula or funds to the group's metro area relief effort, follow Operation: Baby New Year on Facebook.

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