Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank

WPDB Supports National Diaper Need Awareness Week 2017

three babies holding hands

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Sep 2017

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Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank celebrates its 5th anniversary supporting National Diaper Need Awareness Week

Diaper need in Allegheny County estimated at 74,000 per day 

The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank joins the National Diaper Bank Network in supporting National Diaper Need Awareness Week, Sept. 25-Oct. 1.

The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Diaper Bank Network and operated primarily by volunteers, distributes diapers free to families in need throughout the region.  The Diaper Bank supplies the free diapers through 29 partner agencies in four counties.

Diaper Need Awareness Week takes on added significance for us this year, says Cathy Battle, the Diaper Bank’s executive director.  “We also are celebrating our fifth anniversary of providing diapers for children of families in need in the region.”  Since its founding in October of 2012, the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank has grown from serving one county to four (Allegheny, Armstrong, Somerset and Washington), six partner agencies to 29 that distribute diapers to those in need, and has provided over 750,000 free diapers.  The diaper bank qualified for a quarter million diapers in a challenge from Huggies in 2016.

“We are grateful to the greater Pittsburgh community and foundations for their generosity over five years,” adds Battle.  “Despite these great strides, unfortunately diaper need grows faster than we can meet it. There is no direct government funding for diapers.”

To address the need the diaper bank’s anniversary will be the occasion of its first-ever fundraising event on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m. at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland. The public is invited to attend and corporate sponsorships are available. Details are at www.wpadiaperbank.org.  Highmark, Allegheny Health Network, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Duquesne University’s Bayer School of Natural & Environmental Sciences are early supporters.

In the seven Southwest Pennsylvania counties the estimated need of children of families living in poverty is approximately 140,000 diapers per day (74,000 per day in Allegheny County alone) and growing.  Disposable diapers cost up to $100 per month per baby.  The National Diaper Bank Network reports that 1 in 3 American families struggle to afford diapers for their children.  At the rate of six diapers per day, diaper wearing children in poverty in the United States require more than 5.8 billion diapers annually.

To shore up the diaper supply, Battle encourages individuals, companies, churches, civic groups and others to continue their support in several ways.

“We make it easy for anyone to host a diaper drive and diapers can be donated not only during Diaper Need Awareness Week but year round and the following sites:

  • Diaper Bank headquarters, New Light Temple Baptist Church, 2546 Centre Ave., Hill District, Tues.  from 6-8 pm year round
  • Bramble Boutique, 3609 Butler St., Lawrenceville, during shop hours year round
  • Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, 2700 Jane St., South Side, Tues. and Thurs., 4:30-6:30 pm, Sundays, 9 am-noon
  • Kids+Pediatrics, Squirrel Hill, Cranberry and Pleasant Hills, call for hours

Sizes 4, 5 and 6 are the most in-demand sizes of diapers.  Cash donations can also be made with check payable to the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank or online at westernpennsylvaniadiaperbank.org.

Diapers are not distributed from the donation sites.  Those in need of diapers for their families must contact one of the participating partner agencies throughout the area.  All sites are listed at www.westernpennsylvaniadiaperbank.org.

“This Diaper Need Awareness Week is a reminder of the year-round plight of families right here in our region,” says Pastor Phillip Battle, Diaper Bank co-founder and Board president. “It comes at a time for us to also establish a regular diaper supply as winter approaches. The winter months can be especially hard for many families facing the decision between basic necessities such as proper clothing and food and increased utility bills. Programs like this are essential to easing that burden and allowing families to thrive.”

“The health risks are only the beginning of the challenges families face,” explains Pastor Battle, who formerly worked in social services positions.   He notes the following:

  • Most childcare centers, even the free and subsidized facilities, turn away children who arrive without an adequate supply of disposable diapers.
  • Cloth diapers are not accepted at most centers. As a result, many parents cannot go to work or school consistently, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty.
  • Many may not directly see the despair created by the lack of a basic necessity for proper child care.
  • Many babies live in home environments with more tension, less nurturing and possible abuse.
  • Their chance to develop cognitive abilities and language skills normally is in jeopardy, and frankly, the uncomfortable baby will cry — a lot.

“With the support the community at large, this is a crisis we can solve together,” Pastor Battle believes.  “Raising awareness of the issue generally brings a generous response from the community. The blessing is in the diaper!“

Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank is one of the national recipients of the  Funds for Change grant awarded by the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN).

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