Allegheny County Sheriff William P. Mullen is hosting a diaper drive to benefit the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank on Monday, May 8, from 10 am to 2 pm at the County Courthouse, 436 Grant Street, downtown. Diapers will be collected in the courtyard, with an alternate indoor location in case of rain.
The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Diaper Bank Network and operated largely by volunteers, distributes diapers free to families in need throughout the region through 35 partner agencies in five counties.
Diaper Bank Executive Director Cathy Battle says, “Many are not aware that there is no direct government funding for diapers.”
The estimated need of children of families living in poverty in Allegheny County alone is 74,000 diapers per day. 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.
“This event, being held just before Mother’s Day, is a fitting reminder of the year-round plight of families right here in our county,” says Sheriff Mullen. “We see the need every day. Programs like this are essential to easing that burden and allowing families to thrive. This is a community service that our office is proud to support. We encourage the public to join us.”
Diaper sizes 4, 5 and 6 are the most in-demand. Monetary donations can also be made by check payable to the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank or online at wpadiaperbank.org.
Diapers are not distributed from the donation site. 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.wpadiaperbank.org.
The health risks for babies without diapers are only the beginning of the challenges families face. “Many may not directly see the despair created by the lack of a basic necessity for proper child care,” explains Battle.
She 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 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 Sheriff’s leadership and the support of the community at large, this is a crisis we can solve together,” Battle believes. “Raising awareness of the issue generally brings a generous response from the community.“
Contact the Diaper Bank to host your own diaper drive.