Diaper Supply Critically Low. Donations Needed.
The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank has issued an urgent request on behalf of babies of local families in need. Due to an unprecedented number of requests for assistance from their 30 partner agencies, the Diaper Bank’s supply of diapers is critically low and the agency is asking the community for assistance.
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. The Diaper Bank supplies the diapers through partner agencies located in five counties – Allegheny. Fayette, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.
Cathy Battle, WPDB co-founder and executive director, is urging the community to step up to help collect diapers, particularly with colder weather and the holidays approaching.
“Anyone can organize a diaper drive. Companies, churches, schools, neighborhoods, scout troops, civic groups all have sponsored successful drives,” Battle says. Suggestions include diaper drives in lieu of gift exchanges, shopping centers sponsoring a drive as holiday shopping begins, and baby showers for WPDB. “The organization’s web site provides a checklist and promotional material templates to make it simple,” Battle adds. The diaper bank will pick up diapers after they are collected.
Battle adds, “Many are not aware that there is no direct government funding for diapers. Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank joined a national movement to support proposed legislation, Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act (S. 3070) and HR 4055, to address this critical family issue this year but the bills were defeated.” President Obama then issued a challenge to businesses to step up and support community needs. The Huggies challenge is one response to that appeal.”
Huggies has challenged each diaper bank to a match of 250,000 diapers if they collect the same amount by Dec. 31. Battle reports, “We are a little more than halfway to that goal and are counting on the generosity of Pittsburghers to help reach or exceed it. The need is great and growing.”
Diapers also can be dropped off at the following sites year-round:
Diaper Bank Headquarters, New Light Temple Baptist Church, 2546 Centre Ave., Hill District, Tuesdays from 6-8 pm year round
Diaper Bank Warehouse, 201 N. Braddock Ave., Point Breeze
Bramble Boutique, 3609 Butler St., Lawrenceville, during shop hours
Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, 2700 Jane St., South Side, Tues. and Thurs., 4:30-6:30 pm, Sundays, 9 am-noon
ChiroEvolution, 1001 Wexford Plaza Drive, Wexford, Mon.-Thurs, hours vary
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 region. All sites are listed at www.westernpennsylvaniadiaperbank.org.
In the seven Southwest Pennsylvania counties the estimated need of children of families living in poverty is approximately 140,000 diapers per day (77,000 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.
“This appeal 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 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 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.“
Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank is one of the 61 national recipients of the inaugural Funds for Change grant awarded by the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN).
For additional information about the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, to make an online donation, schedule a speaker or to sponsor a diaper drive, visit www.westernpennsylvaniadiaperbank.org.