Diaper Bank Sees Increased Demand As Low-Income Families Struggle
When parents can’t adequately diaper their young children, the consequences can be serious. There can be health problems for baby including urinary tract infections and diaper rash. For parents, there’s a risk of lost wages if their daycare providers won’t accept a child without their daily supply of diapers.
And yet diapers are not included in most assistance programs for needy families. That’s one of the things that drove Valerie Glass and Carrie Scott to start Piedmont Diaper Bank, which provides diapers to 22 assistance agencies in seven local counties. It’s one of fewer than 100 such nonprofits nationwide.
The bank started modestly, out of Glass’ basement, but is now housed in a small warehouse on the edge of Lewisville. This year, the bank will distribute more than 120,000 diapers, and like other assistance agencies that serve the poor, demand is growing. Cuts in unemployment and food stamp programs have led to shrinking pool of income for many low-income families. Those cuts will make it even harder for them to find money for diapers, Glass said.
“We started when the economy wasn’t doing so great, and it has gone downhill from there,” Glass said. “Our food pantries have been telling us that they are getting an increase in volume of families asking for diapers, so they have asked us to provide more diapers for them.”
Glass and Scott started the diaper bank when a social-worker friend told them that she went to the home of one of her clients and found a young child wearing a T-shirt for a diaper. The mother explained she couldn’t afford to buy them. Glass and Scott both have three kids, so they’re no strangers to the world of diapers. They hadn’t given much thought to diaper need for others, but they realized there was a way they could help, Scott said.
“And I figured – I can buy diapers, and I can give them away,” Scott said. “And that’s pretty much how we started. Was just asking our friends to buy diapers and let us give them away. It’s been really rewarding and fulfilling and it’s nice to make a difference.”
It works much like a food bank, supported with donations from the National Diaper Bank Network, donations from individuals and through diaper drives at schools and churches. The bank does not distribute diapers to individuals. Instead, volunteers rely on agencies that serve the poor to reach those in need of diapers. Also, the bank does not accept cloth diapers. Glass said many preschools don’t accept them, and many low-income families don’t have washers and dryers.